What is ATEX certification?

April 23rd, 2015

The phrase ‘ATEX certification’ is often used in engine starting, but what exactly does it mean? If you operate an offshore platform or underground mine – or if you supply products to companies that do – ATEX certification means safety.

The name ‘ATEX’ is short for “Atmospheres Explosibles” and is a strict set of regulations that applies to products intended for used in any hazardous working environments. This includes areas that contain flammable gases, vapours or combustible dust. If a product is capable of creating an explosion through its own source of ignition (excluding cookers, heaters, etc. which are meant to provide ignition) then it must be ATEX approved.

Starting systems clearly fall into this category because they could cause sparks when the rapidly spinning pinion touches an engine’s ring-gear.

ATEX applies to the starting systems on:

• Fire pumps
• Winches
• Wire lines
• Compressors
• Generators and power packs
• FSVs (free-steer vehicles)
• Rail systems

ATEX – the international standard

Although the ATEX regulations were originally drafted for the EU, they are quickly becoming the accepted worldwide standard of approval. From the Americas to the Far East, companies find it easy to specify ‘ATEX-approved’ as the minimum standard for equipment being used on platforms and in mines.

The bottom line is this: products with ATEX approval are deemed superior to products without it. The day will surely come when ATEX approval is mandatory around the globe.

IPU’s ATEX approved start motors

IPU’s ATEX approved hydraulic and air start motors are unique. They are made using a cast iron construction to eliminate the use of aluminium. ATEX recommends against using aluminium and for good reasons. Aluminium is the primary fuel for a thermite reaction, a chemical process that gives off so much heat it is used to weld railway tracks. In most parts of the world, aluminium is banned from underground mines.