Faculty Advisor

Robert G. Zalosh

Faculty Advisor

Joseph A. Senecal


An accumulated combustible dust layer on some hot process equipment such as dryers or hot bearings can be ignited and result in fires when the hot surface temperature is sufficiently high. The ASTM E 2021 test procedure is often used to determine the Hot Surface Minimum Ignition Temperature for a half inch deep layer of a particular dust material. This test procedure was used in this thesis to study possible effects of combustible liquid (such as lubricating oil) and powder additives in the dust layer as well as air flow effects. The following combustible dusts were used: paper dust from a printing press, Arabic gum powder, Pittsburgh seam coal, and brass powder. To develop an improved understanding of the heat transfer, and oxygen mass transfer phenomena occurring in the dust layer, additional instrumentation such as a second thermocouple in the dust layer, an oxygen analyzer and gas sampling line, and an air velocity probe were used in at least some tests. Hot Surface Minimum Ignition temperatures were 220oC for Pittsburgh seam coal, 360oC for paper dust, 270¡Ãƒâ€° for Arabic gum powder, and > 400oC for brass powder. The addition of 5-10 weight percent stearic acid powder resulted in significantly lower ignition temperature of brass powder. When combustible liquids were added to the dust layer, the ignition temperatures did not decrease regardless of the liquids¡¯ ignitibility because the liquids seemed to act as heat absorbents. Although air velocity on the order of 1 cm/s did not affect test results, much larger air velocities did affect the results. With 33 cm/s downward airflow at the elevation of the surface of the layer, Pittsburgh seam coal was not ignited at 230¡Ãƒâ€° which was 10¡Ãƒâ€° higher than the 220¡Ãƒâ€° hot surface ignition temperature without airflow. Based on the results and data from the additional instrumentations, modifications of the ASTM E2021 test procedure are recommended.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Fire Protection Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





hot surface ignition temperature, self-heating, combustible liquid additives, Dust, Fire-testing, Inflammable liquids