A lightweight, explosion-proof shelter for a portal-style scraper reclaimer is in development for a new fertilizer plant in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Outdoor enclosure specialist Intertec says the fertilizer plant will be the world’s largest single-stream gas-to-urea plant – with an output of 4,000 tons per day of granulated urea, a nitrogen-heavy compound found in fertilizers.

Dust created moving the urea during routine storage and reclamation is combustible and can form an explosive mix with air, which means that all electrical equipment in the warehouse must either be explosion-proof in its own right, or contained within an explosion-proof environment. For the plant’s portal scraper reclaimer, equipment supplier Tenova sought to protect the machine’s operator and all electrical control equipment by creating a tightly sealed environment that is maintained slightly above atmospheric pressure to prevent the ingress of dust.

The walls, ceilings and floors of the shelter are constructed from single-piece panels of Intertec’s high-performance glass reinforced polyester (GRP) triple-layer composite material. The material has 4 mm-thick inner and outer walls of GRP, enclosing an insulating 77 mm-thick polyurethane foam core. GRP’s strength-to-weight ratio is a key attribute for this application, as the machine’s bearing system supports the entire weight of the shelter as well the portal gantry itself – approximately 10,800 lbs. All mating panel edges use chemically bonded half-lap joints that provide excellent mechanical strength without the need for any penetrative fittings. The bonding process creates a closed cell foam that expands as it sets to form an impermeable, gas-tight seal.

“There is growing industry awareness that with the right materials, lightweight walk-in type fire resistant and explosion proof shelters are now a practical possibility,” comments Intertec’s CEO, Martin Hess.