Understanding KST Value and How it Relates to Combustible Dust Safety

Managing combustible dust hazards is critical for facilities that handle any potentially explosive dust. An important parameter in dust evaluation is the KST value, which is a numerical representation of the explosive potential of dust. 

Firemen putting out fire


If you are someone who is responsible for a location where dust producing processes occur, you need to be aware of KST value and its implications for safely dealing with combustible dust for explosion prevention and mitigation.

What is KST Value and How is it Used in Industry?

The KST acronym is derived from the German term KStaub, which translates to dust explosion constant. It quantifies the relative explosion severity of a particular dust as compared to other dusts. Quantified in bar.m/s, KST value is determined through standardized testing and provides a benchmark for assessing the explosive power of a dust cloud.

  • Knowing the KST value of the dust in your facility is the first step in developing a comprehensive risk assessment. It helps identify areas where explosive concentrations of dust may occur, thereby establishing the potential severity of an explosion.
  • Why is KST Value Important and How Can it be Used?

  • Industrial accidents have underscored the importance of understanding and managing KST values. For instance, the 2008 Imperial Sugar refinery explosion, one of the deadliest industrial accidents in recent U.S. history, was attributed to the ignition of sugar dust, a substance with a high KST value. This tragic event illustrates the catastrophic potential of neglecting combustible dust management. 
  • Since the Imperial explosion, regulations have increased to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. Regulatory bodies typically reference KST values in their standards. Understanding these values is maintaining both regulatory compliance, as well as a safe working environment.
  • The KST value can be used to determine the proper design of explosion protection and mitigation systems. Facilities with higher KST values will need more extensive explosion venting, suppression systems, and other safety measures.

Mitigation Strategies Based on KST Values

  • Dependable and effective dust collection systems, along with consistent maintenance and cleaning practices, are essential in controlling dust levels, especially in facilities dealing with high KST value materials.
  • Facilities with high KST dusts must implement combustible dust management and fire/explosion mitigation systems designed to handle the specific blast potential. Explosion suppression systems should be tailored to the dust’s explosive characteristics.

Technological Advances in Dust Explosion Prevention

Recent technological advancements have significantly contributed to explosion protection, with equipment designed for the prevention and mitigation of dust explosions. Widely used industrial explosion technologies include:

  • Explosion isolation valves
  • Explosion relief vents
  • Flameless venting
  • Explosion suppression
  • Explosion diverters
  • Abort gates
  • Building duct vents
  • Chemical explosion isolation
  • Mechanical explosion isolation
  • Spark detection and extinguishing

Air Solutions Can Assist with Understanding and Combustible Dust Safety

Understanding this value is not just about compliance with safety standards; it’s about safeguarding lives and property. As industries introduce new materials and processes, the importance of understanding and managing the risks associated with combustible dust, as quantified by the KST value, becomes ever more critical.

Air Solutions is here to assist you in implementing advanced explosion protection systems. We bring you the most trusted names for dependable air movement equipment. Our application experience includes a variety of industries and the latest explosion protection systems for venting, suppression, isolation, and testing. Contact us to discuss your project.