Have you ever wondered how materials used in oxygen systems are tested to help judge their compatibility? How oxygen systems are designed to prevent ignition? And what about oxygen cleaning? Exactly how clean is “oxygen clean?”
These are all questions WHA’s clients face daily, and because of WHA’s long history with ASTM International, these questions can be readily answered. This unique relationship between WHA and ASTM helps industry stay safe around oxygen.
Since 1975, the non-profit organization ASTM International (originally formed as the American Society of Testing and Materials) has played a significant role in the safe design and use of oxygen and oxygen systems. ASTM Committee G04 is a committee within ASTM that focuses on understanding oxygen fire hazards and promoting oxygen safety. They carry out their mission in three main ways:
Today, the organization continues to be powered by a group of dedicated technical volunteers, representing a variety of industries that use oxygen. For over three decades, WHA engineers have provided much of the key leadership in ASTM’s work with oxygen.
WHA is proud to announce that in April, WHA Engineer and Chief Strategy Officer Elliot Forsyth received ASTM’s Award of Merit, the highest society award granted to an individual member for distinguished service and outstanding participation in ASTM International committee activities. Recipients of this award also receive the honorary title of ASTM Fellow. This award recognizes Elliot’s 25 years of volunteer service and dedication to protecting industries around the world against oxygen fires.
We spoke with Elliot to learn more about how WHA’s history with ASTM has impacted the oxygen industry.
In response to a growing need for industry resources on oxygen safety, ASTM first established Committee G04 on Compatibility and Sensitivity of Materials in Oxygen Enriched Atmospheres in 1975. Today, the committee has jurisdiction over 22 standard tests, guides, and practices. The group is organized into three subcommittees: Test Methods, Recommended Practices, and an Executive Subcommittee.
ASTM is set apart by its application of data-driven science. “ASTM is the only international standards organization I know of that is developing test methods and directly applying test data to help guide industry in the safe use of oxygen,” says Elliot Forsyth. “They provide resources so that any company involved the storage, distribution, or use of oxygen can both understand the hazard and implement strategies to reduce the fire risk.”
ASTM is further distinguished in that its standards require full consensus. “Committees require 100% approval from all voters for a standard to pass. If there is even one person who votes ‘negative,’ that stops the process from going forward until the concern is resolved,” explains Elliot. “This means that industries can confidently rely on ASTM to provide fully-agreed upon technical content and information in their standards.”
ASTM’s philosophy is closely aligned with WHA International, which also prides itself as a data-driven organization. Since its inception, WHA has served as the link between government and industry, bringing cutting edge oxygen safety science from NASA to gas producers, equipment manufacturers, and end users. This effort has always been aided by close partnership with ASTM.
“One of WHA’s most notable contributions was our work on the compression heating standard on medical oxygen regulators,” adds Elliot. Following a disturbing rise in oxygen regulator fires in the 1990s, WHA provided significant failure analysis, oxygen testing, and hazard analysis work to develop a new promoted ignition test standard which helps component designers qualify materials for use in high pressure oxygen regulators.
Over the years, WHA engineers have provided key leadership and subject matter expertise to ASTM Committee G04 and its many oxygen standards.
Multiple other WHA team members have been involved in various ASTM committees, task groups, and projects, including Greg Odom who was heavily involved in development of compression heating test standards, Joe Whitehead who has contributed to standards for GOX and LOX mechanical impact testing, and Nic Linley who has helped the committee sort through statistical analysis of data.
The late Jack Stradling was also one of the founding members of ASTM G04 under NASA, and he continued to serve throughout his time at WHA where he received the ASTM award of merit.
“Now, we’re passing the baton to younger engineers, allowing them opportunities to get involved in standards development and interfacing with oxygen experts from all industries,” shares Elliot. Some, like WHA engineer Brad Forsyth have come onboard under the Emerging Professionals program for young enterprising engineers who want to get involved.
“It’s especially important for WHA engineers to continue their close relationship with ASTM,” explains Elliot. “Because we help write these standards, we can bring that intimate understanding to help equip and protect our clients in industry. At WHA, we’re also performing research and generating new test data almost every day. We bring that data and knowledge back to ASTM to continue to further the science of oxygen safety.”
How can WHA help your company stay safe with oxygen, hydrogen, or other hazardous fluids? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our specialized engineering team.Contact Us