What does ATEX mean?
ATEX is an abbreviation from the French, ATmosphère EXplosible (or explosive atmospheres, translated into English), a term which appears in the name of the EU directive 94/9/EC (now replaced by DIRECTIVE 2014/34/EU), which relates to devices used in explosive atmospheres. Generally, it is used to refer to ATEX certifications/standards related to a product’s suitability for being used in hazardous environments
What does ATEX certified mean?
ATEX certification is given to equipment that has gone through rigorous testing outlined by European Union directives and proved safe to use in specific environments with explosive atmospheres, according to the zone/s they are certified to be used in.
Three things are needed to create an explosion
- an ignition source
- one of the following three substances:
- flammable gases
- mists or vapor
- combustible dust
Non-ATEX/IECEx safe computing devices used in hazardous areas could be an ignition source, so it is critical that ATEX/IECEx certified computing devices are used in those areas.
Products that have received ATEX certification will have the official “Ex” badge, indicating they are safe in explosive atmospheres.
What does IECEx certified mean?
Similar to ATEX certification, IECEx certification is given to products that have been thoroughly tested and proven to work safely in environments with explosive atmospheres.
IECEx certification is an internationally accepted method that demonstrates compliance with IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standards. IEC standards and assessments are recognized internationally as a benchmark for fields of electrotechnology.
ATEX certification vs. IECEx certification
Equipment with ATEX or IECEx certifications has met stringent requirements and is tested and certified to work in explosive environments. The main difference comes down to geography. ATEX certification is well-known, but it is specific to the European Union, while IECEx certification is accepted in other regions.
ATEX Zones and Equipment Categories
Explosive atmospheres are found in different environments, such as mines, factories, oil and gas rigs, and flour and wood mills, to name a few. Hazardous area zones have been defined according to the frequency of the presence of explosive materials in specific areas. Each zone has specific equipment categories allowed.
Zone 0, 1, 2 – These are zones specifically for atmospheres with hazardous gases, vapors, and mist.
- Zone 0 – Explosive mixtures are present continuously. Category 1 equipment required.
- Zone 1 – Explosive mixtures are present intermittently. Category 2 or 1 equipment required.
- Zone 2 – Explosive mixtures are present abnormally or infrequently. Category 3, 2, or 1 equipment required.
Zone 20, 21, 22 – These are zones for areas in which dust clouds are or might be present.
- Zone 20 – Explosive mixtures are present in the air continuously. Category 1 equipment required.
- Zone 21 – Explosive mixtures are present in the air intermittently. Category 2 or 1 equipment needed.
- Zone 22 – Explosive mixtures are present abnormally or infrequently in the air. Category 3, 2, or 1 equipment required.
Potential applications for ATEX/IECEx certified computing devices
Working with hazardous materials requires vigilant explosion protection in all industries where explosive atmospheres may be present. Getac offers ATEX/IECEx certified tablets, helping professionals stay focused and safe while doing their job. Solutions built on these devices can be suitable for different uses, among them:
- factories where explosive atmospheres may be present, including food production, pharmaceuticals, painting, manufacturing, etc.
- processing plants or refineries where natural resources including oil and gas, or chemicals may be processed
- mines where explosive atmospheres containing hazardous gases or other materials may be present
- in the field whether working in pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemical, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, or other areas.