The minimum explosible concentration (MEC) is conducted to determine the minimum concentration of dust-air mixture that will propagate a deflagration in a closed system such as 20L Sphere. It is the lowest concentration of combustible dust in the air that is capable of producing a dust explosion if ignited. It represents the lower limit at which a dust-air mixture becomes capable of sustaining combustion or explosion.

The MEC is a critical threshold concentration below which the dust-air mixture is too lean (below the lower explosive limit – LEL) to support sustained combustion or explosion. However, once the concentration surpasses the MEC, it becomes capable of sustaining a combustion reaction if ignited.

Testing Principle and Methodology

A small quantity of the material to be tested typically, about 100g/m3 is dispersed in a 20L Sphere chamber pressurized with compressed air and an ignition source, typically, 2.5KJ chemical ignitor is activated to attempt to ignite the material. ASTM recommends the particles size of the material to be tested to be at least 95% less than 75 microns and less than 5% moisture. In certain unique cases where there is no chance of segregation of the material during normal operation, the material can be tested as received. In case of uncertainty on how to perform the testing please contact Prime Process Safety Center for guidance. At the ignition of the material in the first trial, that is when the pressure ration is 2.0 or more, the concentration is decreased until the pressure ratio in the 20L Sphere is less than 2.0. If no ignition is observed at the initial instance, the concentration of the material is increased in steps of 100g/m3 until ignition is observed. ASTM recommends the difference between ignition and non-ignition concentration to be no more than 25%.

Applicable Standards

The MEC test is conducted in accordance with the American Standard Testing Method (ASTM) E1515. ‘’Standard Test Method for Minimum Explosible Concentration of Combustible Dusts’’and BS EN 14034 part 3

Data interpretation

The MEC of the material is determined from the pressure ratio generated in the 20L Sphere chamber. When the pressure ratio in the sphere at any dust-air mixture is 2.0 or greater, the dust is deemed to have ignited. This concentration must be repeatable as well as the non-ignition dust-air mixture concentration. The MEC is established at a concentration below which ignition of the dust is not possible.

When to perform (MEC)

The determination of the Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC) of combustible dust is recommended in various scenarios to assess the potential hazards associated with dust explosibility. The MEC is particularly important during Risk Assessment and Hazard Analysis, Safety Protocols and Preventive Measures, Process Optimization and Equipment Design, Regulatory Compliance Training and Awareness, and Incident Investigation and Prevention.

Why work with Prime Process Safety Center

  • Prime Process Safety Center is a leader in process safety testing with very experienced laboratory personnel. At Prime Process Safety Center our goal is to provide accurate, reliable and defensible data that meets industry and regulatory standards. We understand the need for the quality of your data, and we work assiduously to achieve just that.
  • We are knowledgeable and experienced in performing minimum explosible/lower explosible limit tests, ensuring accurate and reliable results.
  • We have state-of-the-art MEC/LEL testing equipment, providing precise and sensitive measurements.
  • We follow strict testing protocols and quality control measures to ensure consistent and reliable test results.
  • Our team can interpret and analyze the data obtained from the tests, providing valuable insights and recommendations for your specific application or research.


What is the Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC) of combustible dust?

Answer: The MEC represents the lowest concentration of combustible dust in the air that is capable of sustaining a dust explosion if ignited. It serves as a critical threshold below which the dust-air mixture is too lean to support combustion or explosion.

Why is determining the MEC of combustible dust important?

Answer: Determining the MEC is crucial as it helps in assessing the explosibility hazards associated with combustible dust. This information is used for risk assessment, implementing safety measures, designing processes, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.

How is the Minimum Explosible Concentration (MEC) determined for different dust types?

Answer: The MEC is determined through various testing methods that involve creating dust-air mixtures with varying concentrations. These tests measure the lowest concentration at which the dust-air mixture is capable of sustaining an explosion under controlled conditions.

What factors influence the MEC of combustible dust?

Answer: Several factors influence the MEC, including the particle size distribution, moisture content, chemical composition, and dust characteristics such as reactivity, shape, and surface area. These factors impact the dust’s explosibility.

How is the knowledge of MEC utilized in industry or workplace settings?

Answer: Understanding the MEC is utilized in industries dealing with combustible dust for risk mitigation, process optimization, equipment design, worker safety training, regulatory compliance, and incident prevention to ensure safe handling and management of combustible dust.