In the chemical industry, handling solvents is a truly everyday task, but one that requires special precautions. This is especially true when filling or decanting due to the risk of fire and explosion posed by solvents and their vapours. The use of a suitable filling techniques plays a decisive role here in order to increase work safety and minimise risks.
The storage of solvents in larger containers is common for cost reasons and to avoid supply bottlenecks. Before these solvents can be used in the laboratory or on site, they must be transferred from the large container into smaller containers. However, traditional methods such as pouring or decanting using a funnel harbour considerable risks. These methods can lead to electrostatic charges, which often pose an underestimated risk of explosion. There is also a risk of the solvent leaking or spilling, which can lead to health hazards such as skin irritation or poisoning.
Selection and Use of Filling Pumps
It therefore makes sense to invest in a pump specially designed for hazardous liquids. Such a pump should be made of conductive material, such as stainless steel, to enable earthing. This is particularly important when filling flammable liquids in order to avoid the risk of fire and explosion. Plastic pumps are simply not suitable in such cases due to their non-conductivity.
The pumps must also be chemically resistant to the solvent to be filled. Special lists on the chemical resistance of plastics and metals provide information here and should always be kept in hand. A positive pressure pump is often the preferred choice for filling drying solvents, as only the pump tube comes into contact with the medium, thus avoiding mechanical abrasion of the seal.
Guide to Risk Minimisation
Solvent pumps are available in various designs for different container sizes and filling quantities. Manual hand pumps are suitable for canisters and smaller drums, while foot-operated pumps are useful for larger drums. For filling oxygen-sensitive or high-purity media, a dispensing system using inert gas such as nitrogen can be used.
It is also important that all components, including the filling pump and container, can be earthed during filling. The use of an anti-static kit can prevent electrostatic charges, which can otherwise lead to ignition or explosion. This also makes filling into plastic containers safe.
Decision-makers in the chemical industry should be aware of the importance of correct and safe filling techniques. Choosing the right pump and observing safety measures are crucial not only to minimise the dangers of handling solvents but also to protect the health of employees.