Our Solutions: Testing

Gas & Vapour Testing

Working to ISO/IEC 17025 standards, our laboratories generate test data on the hazardous properties of gases & vapours.

Gas & vapour testing

Test your gases & vapours

Gases, vapours and similar substances has the potential to create risk for fire and explosions. Understanding the properties related to the risk of these hazardous materials is essential to your processes. Sigma-HSE’s gas & vapour testing lab offers comprehensive standard and custom testing packages to aid you in identifying the potentially hazardous properties of the gases and vapours in your work environment.

Discover our range of tests

We offer a wide range of electrostatic testing services to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standards, globally.
Discover our range of tests below and get in touch for a free consultation today.

Flashpoint

ASTM D 93 / ISO 2719 / ASTM D 3828

The flashpoint is conducted to determine the lowest temperature at which a liquid will liberate sufficient vapour that will briefly ignite (flash).

Flash point measures the response of the test specimen to heat and ignite under controlled laboratory conditions. It is only one of a number of properties that must be considered in assessing the overall flammability hazard of a material. Flash point is used in shipping and safety regulations to define flammable and combustible materials and classify them. Flash point can indicate the possible presence of highly volatile and flammable materials in a relatively non-volatile or non-flammable material.

There are several closed cup methods used at sigma to determine a flashpoint

A test specimen (75 ml) is introduced into the test cup of the apparatus and the lip assembly attached and the sample is heated at a rate of 1.0 to 1.6°C per minute with continual stirring at 250 rpm.  A small flame with a diameter of 3.2 to 4.8 mm is directed into the cup containing the sample, at regular intervals, with simultaneous interruption of stirring.

Testing is started at 23 ± 5 °C below the expected flashpoint (or at ambient if unknown) with ignition source application at 1 °C intervals, for temperatures up to 110 °C, and 2 °C for temperatures above 110 °C. Further trials on fresh material are conducted starting 23 ± 5 °C, below that of the lowest ignition temperature observed in the initial trial. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which the application of a flame results in an ignition of the vapour, above the sample.

A test specimen (2ml for temperatures up to and including 100 °C, 4 ml for temperatures above 100 °C) is introduced into the test cup of the apparatus that is maintained at the expected flash point (or ambient temperature if the expected flashpoint is not known). After a specified time (1 minute for temperatures up to and including 100 °C, 2 minutes for temperatures above 100 °C) an ignition source is applied, and a determination made whether or not a flash occurred.

The test specimen is removed from the test cup; the test cup and cover are cleaned, and the test temperature adjusted 5°C lower or higher depending on whether or not a flash occurred previously. A fresh test specimen is introduced and tested. This procedure is repeated until the flash point is established within 5°C. Finally, the procedure is then repeated at 1°C intervals until the flash point is determined to the nearest 1°C.

Many products, containing even very small quantities of material with a low flashpoint can still dominate the flammability characteristics, especially flashpoint. Even in an aqueous solution, materials of high volatility will be driven off at low temperatures. Equally a mixture of materials with similar volatility characteristics and differing individual flashpoints can produce an averaging scenario.

Therefore, assumptions are far from ideal when assessing liquid mixtures for flammability. Testing is the only way to confidently ensure a flammable atmosphere is either avoided or understood.     

Auto-Ignition Temperature (AIT)

ASTM E659

The auto-ignition temperature (AIT) test is conducted to determine the lowest temperature at which a substance will produce hot-flame ignition in the air at a specific atmospheric pressure, without the aid of an external energy source such as a spark or flame. It is the lowest temperature at which a combustible mixture should be raised, so that the rate of heat evolved by the exothermic oxidation reaction will overbalance the rate at which heat is lost to the surroundings and cause ignition.

The test is predominantly conducted on liquids, however gases and solids capable of full vaporisation so they can be tested using the method below:

Working through a range of material concentrations, the material is injected into a heated and thermally stabilised, 500 ml round bottom flask. Once an ignition temperature is observed, the flask temperature is reduced, and the material concentration is varied until an AIT is established.

The AIT is required to define the maximum permitted surface temperature of electrical and non-electrical equipment used in areas where potential testing material is present. This allows for the correct and appropriate designation of equipment based on their temperature or “T” Class.

Many products are incorrectly given an AIT based either on untrustworthy literature or on its worst-case component (component with the lowest AIT). Other inert or less sensitive components within the product can greatly affect the overall AIT of the product. These products will usually produce a higher AIT.

Flammable Limits (LEL / UEL)

ASTM E681 / ASHRAE 34

This test is conducted to determine the lower and upper flammable concentration limits of chemicals that have sufficient vapour pressure to form flammable mixtures in atmospheric pressures at specific temperatures.

This test can be conducted on vaporised liquids and gaseous materials. Refrigerant gases are tested to ASHRAE 34, using the method detailed within ASTM E681, with specific ignition criteria and air moisture content.

 

Lower limit of flammability or lower flammable limit (LFL) is the minimum concentration of a combustible substance that can propagate a flame in a homogeneous mixture of the combustible material and the air, under the specified conditions of the test. Generally, 1% v/v of the material is added to a glass vessel under a vacuum. Air is allowed back into the system and the material and air is mixed before an electrical ignition source is activated, and observations for flame propagation are observed. The material is then incrementally increased in 1% steps until ignition is observed and the LFL defined.

Upper limit of flammability or upper flammable limit (UFL) is the maximum concentration of a combustible substance that can propagate a flame in a homogeneous mixture of the combustible material and air, under the specified conditions of the test. Once the UFL has been established, a theoretical UFL is calculated, and testing is started at a concentration above.

The material is added to a glass vessel under a vacuum, air is allowed back into the system and the material and air is mixed before an electrical ignition source is activated, and observations for flame propagation are observed. The material is then incrementally decreased in 1% steps until ignition is observed and the UFL defined.

To ensure that avoiding a flammable atmosphere as a ‘basis of safety’ is accurately conducted and monitored, making sure flammable limit alarms and detection systems are correctly set. Blended materials cannot simply be based upon worst case constituent values, therefore testing of the product is essential.

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The Sigma-HSE Advantage

From the testing of a materials ignition sensitivity to explosion severity, Sigma-HSE is your single solution provider for a range of dust & powder flammability testing. Our dedicated team of experts are committed to helping you ensure and maintain compliance.

How to get your gases & vapours tested

Receive quick and accurate data in just a few simple steps

Contact us

Get in touch with one of our experts so we can learn more about your specific requirements. We’ll then generate a customised quote based on your requirements.

Prepare & ship

Prepare your samples and ship them to one of our global laboratories.

Test, analyse & report

Once we’ve received your samples, we’ll begin testing and analysing. We’ll then create and send you a custom in-depth report with actionable insights.

Post-project support

If you need support after receiving your report, our after-sales support team will be on hand to assist you with any questions you may have.

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