An explosive topic!
Lately I have received numerous questions regarding gas. Clearly the phrase “it works like a bomb” does not put everyone at ease, so I though I’d do a series of posts on this explosive topic in the light of a recent experience that I had.
Works like a bomb
It started when I went on a call-out to an old Sivetz-type fluid bed roaster. The machine was built ages ago in South Africa, but the person who built it has long since past. There is no one who could figure it out, so Genio went in to solve the problem.
On arrival, we quickly set about fixing the electrics which prevented the machine from running. This was the easy part and we decided to boot the system and see if we can roast some coffee. As we went about preparing for the first roast, I was startled to see their gas installation. The owner clearly installed his own gas with no regard for the safety and well-being of his staff. It was shocking!
The first problem I had was with the fact that no-one could find the keys to the gas cylinder cage. After 10 minutes of searching, we finally got the cage open to inspect the cylinders. It turns out that the ONLY valve in the entire system was in the cage. There was also no pressure regulator in sight. We headed back inside and found the regulator right in front of the massive fluid bed ring burner with no shut-off valve to speak of. The pipes were all joined with compression fittings and secured to only the fragile old window frame. The thick copper pipes ran from the window across the roof of the small, unventilated room, down a wall and over the floor at ankle-height. The burner assembly was unsecured; if anyone tripped over the 20cm high pipe, the entire 4m long unsupported assembly would snap off and high pressure, super flammable gas from 3x 48kg cylinders would pour into the room with no shut-off valve save for the one in the cage around the back of the huge factory.
It was incredible that someone would allow his own staff and us to work in such conditions. After a stern email and an immediate embargo on all further work, the owner thankfully contacted the pro’s to get the job done properly.
Lesson for the day: DO NOT INSTALL YOUR OWN GAS!
In the following weeks we’ll be doing a few posts on gas safety and what to look out for when installing gas systems for your coffee roasters. Watch this space!!