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Influence of Environmental Factors on Spark Ignition Probability
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    In past years, the U.S. Bureau of Mines has been involved in safety research that could ultimately re-late the conditions of spark testing and actual use by estimating the simple ignition probability of a circuit in question. A major problem in estimating this probability is that results show a significant variability, even though gas mixtures and electrical parameters may be closely controlled. Some researchers have suggested that the ambient environmental conditions of the testing may influence the results. A series of tests were conducted using a spark test apparatus to simulate a failing electrical circuit. By independently adjusting the temperature, pressure, or relative humidity of the combustible gas mixture, multiple test environments were examined. At each ignition, a computer re-corded the temperature, pressure, and relative humidity of the gas immediately prior to the explosion. These data were then used to establish the effect of the test environment on the ignition probability and to create a mathematical model of the test environment's synergistic effects. The analysis indicated that these effects were not as significant as previously expected. No general algorithm was found that could be used to predict these effects across the range of circuits tested.

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