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Threshold powers and delays for igniting propane and butane-air mixtures by cw laser-heated small particles
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    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Laboratory conducted a study of laser safety in potentially flammable environments. Researchers measured threshold igniting powers as a function of beam diameter for butane and propane-air mixtures by laser-heating targets placed on optical fiber tips using a 1064 nm laser. The minimum igniting powers for propane-air and butane-air were about 250 and 300 mW, respectively. Threshold igniting powers for propane-air were approximately proportional to beam diameter for beam diameters from 0.1 to 2.0 mm. Results suggest that relatively powerful beams may be used in these atmospheres without causing ignition, provided the beam diameter is controlled. Threshold ignition delay times using 91125 and 62.51 125 pm fibers were approximately proportional to the inverse square of the laser power. Ignition delays were about 45 ms or longer for laser powers up to 800 mW. Preproduction samples of a commercial optical fuse prevented ignitions under selected test conditions. A self-healing effect was observed for one sample. Comparisons are made with the results of other researchers. O 2006 Laser Institute of America. Key words: propane ignition, butane ignition, laser ignition, nonbeam hazards, fiber optic fuse

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