Contractors Unlimited

ATEX Directive 94/9/EC

What is ATEX?

ATEX is the common name given to the EU directive 94/9/EC, Equipment and Protective Systems intended for use in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres.
The word ATEX is derived from the French "ATmospheres EXplosibles".

What is the intent of the ATEX Directive?

To enable the free trading of ATEX products within the European Economic Area by removing the need for separate documentation and testing for each individual European market. Manufacturers may use a single CE mark on their products to show compliance with this (and any other relevant) Directive.

What does ATEX apply to?

The ATEX directive applies to both electrical and mechanical equipment intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. These include:
- equipment and protective systems for use within potentially explosive atmospheres;
- devices for use outside potentially explosive atmospheres, but which are required for, or contribute to the safe functioning of equipment and protective systems located inside such atmospheres; and
- components relating to the above.

To what industries does ATEX apply?

ATEX applies to any industrial location where there is a potential for an explosive atmosphere to exist, e.g. mines, factories, agricultural silos, refineries, oil and gas platforms, water and other chemical processing environments.

To whom does ATEX apply?

If you design, manufacture or sell any equipment or protective system intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres within the EU, then you will need to comply with the ATEX Directive 94/9/EC.

How do I know if a product complies with ATEX?

The ATEX Directive sets a number of technical and quality objectives that must be complied with to the satisfaction of a notified body, but once these have been met, a manufacturer can mark his product with a CE Mark and is entitled to display the distinctive ex mark.
See our toolbox page on CE Marking for more information.
 

What other marking can be shown?

The following marking should be shown on all ATEX compliant equipment.
- CE Mark
- Ex-marking symbol followed by ATEX data
- Name and address of manufacturer
- Series or type, serial number
- Year of construction
- All further information essential to the safe use
Marking, especially on small components can be an issue.
 

Show me an example of the CE, EX and Atex data marking

  9876  European Mark  II  2  G
 

What does the ATEX data mean?

The ATEX Directive identifies two groups of equipment.
- Group 1 equipment is intended for use in mining applications. Divided into categories M1 and M2. M1 identifies equipment that must continue to operate when a potentially explosive atmosphere is present. M2 identifies equipment that does not operate when a potentially explosive atmosphere is present.
- Group 2 is intended for all other situations. Divided into categories 1,2 and 3.
Category 1 equipment is intended for use in Zone O situations.
Category 2 equipment is intended for use in Zone 1 situations.
Category 3 equipment is intended for use in Zone 2 situations.
 

What are Zones?

Zoned areas are areas where there is a risk of flammable material being released to atmosphere. The subscripts 0, 1 and 2 describe the probability of a flammable material being released to atmosphere in explosive concentrations. A full explanation, and comparison with the North American system can be found in the Hazardous Area toolbox page.

And the G?

G means the item has been tested for potentially explosive atmospheres due to the presence of gas.
D means the item has been tested for potentially explosive atmospheres due to the presence of dust.
 

What about Mechanical Issues?

ATEX also covers non-electrical equipment used in potentially explosive atmospheres. See BS EN 13463
For mechanical equipment, the zones are defined differently, e.g.
Zone 0 - safety with 2 faults
Zone 1 - safety under specified overload conditions
Zone 2 - safety in normal operation
Need to consider - Temp rise; sparks; material selection to avoid static charges; avoidance of frictional contact between certain alloys and steels; minimisation of leaks.

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