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For computer based systems to be used in a hazardous environment, purging technology is the most logical. Within this technology there are basically two levels of protection and purging systems available based on the environment. The ”least critical“ is a Class I, Division 2 area in which explosive gases are present only during an abnormal circumstance (i.e. an accidental release of a gas by-product). For this situation a Type Z purge system is utilized which provides for a continuous air flow and pressurization of the enclosure and has a pressure switch with alarm contact to alert the operator and/or control system that pressure has been lost for whatever reason. The operator can then take the necessary steps to shut down the power to the system if a hazardous situation occurs.

The second level of protection is for ”critical“ applications, Class I, Division 1, in which the explosive or hazardous gases are present during normal operation. For this situation a Type X purge system is utilized which just like the Z purge above, provides a continuous air pressure into the cabinet but also performs one other important function. Basically, the X purge system will control the overall power within the enclosure such that, due to the loss of pressure within the enclosure, for whatever reason, the EPCU (Electronic Power Control Unit) within the X purge system will shut down all power to the system. It will also prevent the power-up of the system until all explosive gases that might have built up within the enclosure during shut down have been effectively flushed out. For a typical PC enclosure this would involve a 10 minute "Rapid Exchange Purge" in which (4) volumes of air are passed through the enclosure before power is allowed to be re-energized.

The basic difference between the Type Z (Div 2) and the Type X (Div 1) is that with Type Z the power is controlled manually, while the Type X power is automatically controlled by the system itself. The codes for the proper configuration and operation of these purge systems are governed by NFPA, Section 496.

Types of Purging
A Purge Workstation from OP/Station contains all of the above safety features outlined and will accept the computer/monitor of your choice. Workstations are shipped fully assembled with an integrated purge system whereby the customer only needs to connect up power and air via the connection points provided. All OP/Station’s Purge Workstations are shipped standard with an integrated membrane or elastomer NEMA 4/4X keyboard with Optical Isolators in line with the keyboard. This basically adds another level of protection to prevent any sparks from occurring if the keyboard surface is scratched or punctured for whatever reason. Additionally, with the Type X system, all power is hardwired from the purge control system through a (4) outlet surge suppressor within the enclosure. Therefore, the customer need only attach his power plugs from his computer and monitor into the surge suppressor within the unit.
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