Hi all, I have also heard the warning about charcoal dust explosions and have tried to create one. After some experimenting my conclusion is… It cannot happen. Here is why. Charcoal is mostly carbon. When exposed to atmospheric concentrations of oxygen (21%) and a flame, the most it will do is glow as it converts to carbon dioxide. That is it, at the worst, a gentle glow.
Now compare charcoal to sawdust, grain dust, or sugar dust. These are carbohydrates which means each molecule of these materials is a combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. With oxygen in intimate contact with the two fuels of hydrogen and carbon, all that is needed to initiate a rapid burn is a spark and then BOOM. Charcoal cannot do this since oxygen is not in intimate contact with the charcoal or concentrated enough.
Put the charcoal dust in an atmosphere of pure oxygen and it will probably explode (rapidly burn). (haven’t experimented with that!) Does anyone have concrete knowledge of a charcoal dust explosion? If so, please share. I’m always looking to learn.
Gary in PA