Safety for potentially explosive atmospheres with electrically conductive PRE-ELEC® plastics

Imagine an environment where the air contains some potentially explosive substance like oil fumes, sawdust, or baking flour. Then some innocent equipment creates a spark of electricity that ignites the substance flowing in the air. People can get hurt in the explosion, and the buildings can suffer damage or even burn down.

This kind of explosion could happen at a gas station, a coal mine, or a bakery. A better-known example is the danger of smoking at a gas station. But many people don't realize that baking flour, for example, can be explosive. Or that electric discharge from an electrically resistant material can ignite an explosion.  

Explosive environments

In explosive (Ex) environments, electric sparks are especially dangerous. Explosions can occur when these factors combine:

  • Dry air
  • Explosive substances in the air, such as
    • Oil fumes, gasses
    • Dust from agricultural products, such as flour, sugar, cereals, soybeans, rice, etc.
    • Dust from coal, medicines, wood, textiles, etc.
  • Ignition source (e.g., ESD)
A mining environment, an example of ATEX environments

Mines are often explosive environments.

ATEX directive and electrically conductive plastics

European Union's ATEX Directive (2014/34/EU) covers equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. For raw materials, there's no specific directive, but the materials need to be compatible with the requirements for the whole equipment.

Plastics can be a source of electric discharge if the resistance of the material is over 109—1012 ohms. Using that kind of plastics in equipment might cause dangerous explosions in ATEX environments.

Premix's electrically conductive PRE-ELEC® plastics typically have much lower resistance, and they can be customized to fulfill the customer's specifications. Compared to metals, plastics are cheaper, lighter, and corrosion-resistant. The plastics can even be made flame-retardant.

Examples of ATEX environments (click the pictures to open)

Designing ATEX-compatible equipment together with Premix

Premix has a large variety of electrically conductive plastics already available, and we often develop suitable materials with our customers. From our Data Center, you can find a list of readily-offered raw materials with parameters like surface resistance and temperature stability.

All materials and components used in ATEX-compatible equipment have to pass the ex-certification process. The process depends on the equipment, chosen Ex-shielding methods, and the operating temperatures of the equipment. Based on this information, Premix can recommend the best-fit material, but the equipment will receive the final and official material approval only from the Ex-certification testing. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

We have collected here some questions on ATEX from our customers and Premix colleagues. Riku Vuorinen, our trusted external expert, has provided the answers. Contact us if you have any further questions!


Riku Vuorinen works as a Senior Expert and Lead Auditor in Eurofins Expert Services Oy. He is responsible for the Notified Body functions under the European ATEX Directive as well as the certification services according to the IEC explosion protection standards. Riku is also a member of several working groups of international Ex-standardization.


Polymer modification experts at your service

Would you like to explore how Premix can bring value to your business?