Technical Conferences

What is IECEx?

IECEx is a voluntary system which provides an internationally accepted means of proving compliance with IEC standards. IEC standards are used in many national approval schemes and as such, IECEx certification can be used to support national compliance, negating the need in most cases for additional testing.

The Benefits of IECEx

The fact that many countries operate under different standards means that Ex equipment often needs to be re-tested and re-certified to the appropriate standards of that country, adding to the cost of the equipment. The IECEx scheme significantly reduces the need for re-testing and certification by conforming to international IEC standards, and therefore makes international trade easier, quicker and more cost effective.

The objective of the IECEx System is to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for use in explosive atmospheres, while maintaining the required level of safety:

  • reduced testing and certification costs to manufacturer

  • reduced time to market

  • international confidence in the product assessment process

  • one international database listing

  • maintaining International Confidence in equipment and services covered by IECEx Certification

What is an Ex area?

Ex areas can be known by different names such as “Hazardous Locations”, “Hazardous Areas” “Explosive Atmospheres”, and the like and relate to areas where flammable liquids, vapours, gases or combustible dusts are likely to occur in quantities sufficient to cause a fire or explosion.

The modern day automation of industry has meant an increased need to use equipment in Ex areas. Such equipment is termed “Ex equipment”

Batteries are one of today’s most bought and sold products, the amount we use is astonishing, but of course, this is because these days we have a lot more electronics at our disposal. In Australia, this is causing a massive issue as we only have one site able to recycle flat batteries. To make matters worse, China (who had been taking a lot of Australia’s waste) has placed a ban on waste imports, meaning that now all the batteries are either heading to the landfill or this small facility.

The facility lies in New Gisborne in Victoria and has 200 plastic lined drums that are full of 160 tonnes worth of batteries. Now, this may not sound like a much, but remember most consumer batteries are pretty small compared to most other items when it comes to waste. The Company called Envirostream (the owners of the facility) has pleaded to manufactures and the government to help keep the batteries out of landfills.

Research done by the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy found that the waste could estimate 18,000 tonnes in 2018 along with possibly hitting 154,000 tonnes by 2034. This, of course, isn’t including the possibility of a surge in battery-powered cars along with batteries for houses, which has not become popular in Australia just yet. It means that, with the Chinese ban still in place, there needs to be a step up in efforts to properly manage battery waste.

One company has already responded to the call saying that they will transport batteries back to their US headquarters to be recycled there. It is a good start and to be honest no one expected anything less of Tesla, as they have shown in the past their commitment to environmental issues. The question is; will other companies follow suit?

Did you know that coal dust can lead to mine explosions? Dust is present in numerous industries with flour, sawdust and sugar potentially as explosive as coal dust. Vapours, mists and gases are also factors that may trigger explosions when exposed to spark ignition. 

Oil and gas installations, petrochemical, chemical plants, grain storage, coal handling and refuelling areas often create hazardous areas resulting from flammable gases, vapours, mists and dusts which can produce explosive mixtures with air. The electrical, mechanical and instrumentation equipment installed in these potentially hazardous areas must be designed to provide protection against the possibility of gas or dust ignition. Solutions to these problems can be certified flameproof and intrinsically safe equipment.

Dusts are solid airborne particles, often created by operations such as grinding, crushing, milling and sanding. The size of the dust particles is important as there is a difference between inhalable and respirable dusts and the nature of the hazards they present.

Gases are formless fluids usually produced by chemical processes involving combustion or by the interaction of chemical substance. A gas will normally seek to fill the space completely into which it is liberated, for example, nitrogen gas widely used in vessels due to its chemically inert properties.

The clean energy industry is on the verge of a major breakthrough, with 16 renewable projects being completed in 2017, adding 700 MW of new generation. Seven times that amount are currently under construction or have secured financial support. This equates to approximately an $11 billion investment and the creation of almost 6000 new jobs. 

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has recently released their 2018 report, which shows Australia has enough projects running at a sufficiently advanced stage to meet the 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET).  However, the percentage of renewable energy fell from 17.3 per cent in 2016 to 17 per cent in 2017. The CEC attribute this to a decline in hydro generation caused by reduced rainfall in catchment areas. 

Despite this, it was still a record year for the renewable energy sector, according to CEC chief executive Kane Thornton. Large-scale wind and solar project activity has increased investment by 150 per cent in Australia. Four large-scale solar projects were completed in 2017, with the total capacity of installed solar reaching 450 MW. This is remarkable considering only 34 MW were installed at the end of 2014. 

In the small-scale market, almost 1.1 GW of solar PV was installed — a record for the rooftop solar industry. Twelve per cent of the 172,000 solar systems installed in 2017 included a battery, which is a 7 per cent increase from 2016. Over 40 per cent of national storage installations occurred in New South Wales. In the medium-scale sector, 131 projects added 53 MW of new capacity. This means there’s now 167 MW of cumulative capacity, demonstrating an increase of over 500 per cent in the past five years. 

Have you ever considered living off the grid, in a community that co-exists with nature – growing your own vegetables, minimising waste and environmental impact, and creating your own power through solar energy? This is exactly what the 70 members of the Moora Moora community do. Located on Mount Toolebewong in Victoria, approximately 70 km from Melbourne, this community consists of 30 housing units grouped in six clusters. Everyone living here owns a share in the land, infrastructure and machinery. 

Moora Moora was developed with three aims: cooperation, reducing environmental impact and education. Many of its members were concerned with the overcrowding and isolation of city life, so they decided to move into this ‘intentional community,’ which finds its purpose in the pursuit for individual and community development. The notion of an intentional community comes from the idea of living cooperatively in a village which reflects shared values. 

Fifty adults and 20 children currently live in Moora Moora. Their shared philosophy is that adults and children can’t be autonomous if they’re forced to rely on each other, so different members of the community will look after the children. This also feeds into the idea that children need more than one playmate and space that’s free of urban dangers to allow them to learn and be creative. 

While members often have jobs outside of the community, they’re expected to commit to internal workdays, attend meetings and social events and be actively involved in the community life. Members are encouraged to take part in industries that directly benefit the cooperative, such as farming, teaching, mechanics, building, carpentry and spinning and weaving. 

Community member Glen Morris is responsible for the power supply to the Moora Moora community, given they live off the electricity grid. He has designed a micro-grid system out of 20 different brands of inverters, batteries and panels. With more than 20 years’ experience in the renewable energy sector, he’s personally lived off the grid for most of that time. Glen is the Keynote Speaker and workshop presenter at the upcoming IDC Solar-Diesel Hybrid & Battery Systems Conference in Brisbane, Queensland. He will be running a full-day workshop on “Designing Stand-Alone Power Systems,” drawing on his own experience of building and maintain an autonomous grid. 

For more information, or to register, please click HERE.

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