By Minco Staff
It takes three things to start a fire: oxygen, fuel, and ignition. Unless you’re in a controlled atmosphere, there’s always plenty of oxygen in the air around us. And in many industrial settings, fuel—flammable gas or liquid or finely divided flammable powders or fibers—is readily available in the products they make or use. Such operations go to great lengths to contain these dangerous fuels, but the critical factor that must be controlled is sources of ignition. For suppliers and users of electrical components, that means a spark or a hot surface.
ATEX and IECEx standards govern equipment used in explosive atmospheres, with ATEX being a European Union directive and IECEx standard followed worldwide. At this time, both directives still incorporate the “Ex nA” protection concept for non-sparking electrical devices being used in Zone 2 hazardous areas. The recent release of IEC 60079-7:2015 introduces “Ex ec” protection concept as a replacement for “Ex nA”. The actual replacement will fully take place at some time in the future. This will not affect the construction or operation of the products Minco provides, but it will affect the way they need to be designated by users purchasing equipment for use in these areas. In other words, at some time in the future, if you use the old designation your specification will be returned to you for correction. Here’s what you need to know:
- ATEX and IECEx tend to follow one another in changing their requirements, but one typically lags behind the other timewise.
- IECEx permits the use of the latest two standard editions (currently IEC 60079-7: 2007 and IEC 60079-7:2015). In other words, you must comply with either the latest revision or one revision prior. This means Ex nA is still permitted according to the 2007 standard and Ex ec is now permitted per the 2015 standard. Protection concept “nA” will not be fully obsoleted until a new version of the standard is released.
- ATEX permits the use of a standard until a formal “Date of Cessation of Presumption of Conformity” is stated in the Official Journal of the European Union. ATEX is expected to follow the same path as IECEx at some point in the future.
You can wait until new revisions come out to comply. Or you can change the way you specify Zone 2 electrical devices right now and not have to worry about the change when it occurs. You can do this in one of two ways:
- If you simply specify that the electrical device you want is for Zone 2 use, Minco will select the appropriate protection concept—“Ex nA” before the change and “Ex ec” after the change.
- You can dual-specify the device as “Ex nA and/or Ex ec” and Minco will select the appropriate current Zone 2-compliant protection concept.
In the meantime you need to know that, while Minco might, at some time in the future, send back a requirement to be rewritten, we won’t sell you an out-of-date product. Our technical team will ensure you remain up to date and compliant. Learn more about our certifications on Minco.com or check out our in-stock Miniature Sensors, Probe Assemblies, and Humidity Sensors.