There are two sources of ignition, a spark or a hot surface
As with most parameters used with Atex the hot surface ignition temperature is arrived at by physical testing rather than theoretically calculations, therefore values can vary depending on the data source, and the 'T' value for Gas and Dust are both arrived at and displayed differently.

 Auto-ignition Temperature AIT
lowest temperature (of a hot surface) at which, under specified conditions (detailed in EN 60079-20-1), an ignition of a flammable gas or vapour in mixture with air/inert gas occurs.

Also known as Minimum Ignition Temperature although this term is generally used in the context of dust. Auto-ignition temperature should not be confused with with the flash point temperature which is generally a lower value.

 Flash Point Temperature
Lowest liquid temperature at which, under certain standardized conditions, a liquid gives off vapours in quantity such as to be capable of forming an ignitable vapour/air mixture.
The hazardous area regulations do not apply to liquids with a flashpoint of greater than 60°C1

The above parameters are well known for most individual gases. . However, if there is an unknown gas such as vapours from a liquid mix then either a worst case scenario should be assumed or the vapour tested according to EN 60079‑20‑1

 'T' Rating


Auto Ignition temperatures

Autoignition temperatures

In order to simplify the issue, for gas ignition the gases are banded into 6 groups, T1 - T6 based on the autoignition temperature of the gas.

The ignition temperature is looked at and the gas allocated to a 'T' group lower than the autoignition temperature e.g. Butane with an auto ignition of 365°C would be designated T2 gas (>300 °C)
Taking a list of the 169 most common potentially explosive gases found the split is:   T1 – 62, T2 – 68, T3 – 28, T4 – 8. T6 group consists of Carbon Disulphide and Ethyl Nitrate.
The autoignition value for Ethyl Nitrate sometimes listed as high as 100°C but erring on the safe side a figure of 95°C is usually accepted, making it a T6 gas.

Phosphine is a highly explosive gas. However, with an ignition temperature of <40°C i.e. below T6 and will potential ignite on a hot day, it is outside the scope of standard certification and special conditions protection methods must be applied.2

For Oil and Gas applications T3 is usually sufficient, T4 to be on the safe side. However higher T ratings are often specified without due thought to the issues that may present.

Dust Ignition Temperature


Dust Minimum Ignition Temperature

MIT Dust
The ignition figures for Dust are arrived at by test methods according to EN 50281-2-1:1999 the results can vary significantly and often figures are published which use different test methods.
Unlike Gas Dust 'T' figures are not grouped or banded and the specific ignition temperature should be used e.g. T200°C, in addition there are two temperatures to take into consideration Minimum Ignition Temperature of cloud (MIT) and the Layer Ignition Temperature, (LIT). When the term 'auto-ignition temperature, or just ignition temperature is used it generally refers to the MIT.
 Minimum ignition temperature of a dust cloud:
Lowest temperature of the hot inner wall of a furnace at which ignition occurs in a dust cloud in air contained therein.

Minimum Ignition Temperature of a dust layer:
Lowest temperature of a hot surface at which ignition occurs in a dust layer of specified thickness on this hot surface.

The ignition temperature of dusts are based on standard (typical) particle size and this can vary significantly a good example being the generic term sugar, which depending on type (and particle size) can have an ignition temperature anywhere in the range associated with food stuff.

The final 'T' rating is calculated from the lowest value of either 2/3 MIT or 75°C3 below LIT.

The 75°C reduction is based on a standard assumption of no more than 5mm layer of dust. Should there be a likelihood of more than 5mm of dust accumulating then the reduction should be greater as detailed in EN 60079–14 (Section figure 1.

For recently certified equipment EN 60079-0 now calls for the label to include details of the layer thickness that the certification was based on e.g. T100 300°C for equipment with a maximum surface temperature of 300°C tested at 100mm thickness of dust. If no thickness is specified it is assumed dust layering was not considered for the 'T' rating and therefore the site must take any potential dust layering into consideration.
Often an ignition temperature for the dust is quoted without identifying whether it is MIT or LIT, in most cases this is the MIT. As an example (Wheat) flour MIT has been quoted as anywhere between 380°C 430°C depending on data source, the 430°C is the accepted figure for wheat grain. The most common figure appears to be an MIT of 400°C which in this case is the same as the generally accepted LIT.
However, an LIT of 200°C has been published for certain types of wheat flour dust. This can create issues with finding equipment, particularly motors, with T125°C or less.
For a dust with MIT 350°C and LIT 400°C we get:

using MIT 350°C x 2/3 = 234°C      using LIT: 400°C -  75  = 375°C

In this case a T234°C as the lower of the two would be quoted for the area.

These figures are for example only. Each site is responsible for selecting the appropriate temperatures to work with:

As can be seen here most foodstuffs fall within a band between 350°C & 450°C. if equipment with <T234°C rating is used it would be suitable for a dust of MIT 350°C and LIT of 309°C assuming layering is no more than 5mm4

In summary if the T number is 1 to 6 it refers to gas, otherwise it relates to a dust.

In practice the use of the temperature concept is very straightforward. When applied to the fuel it means it will not ignite until at least the specified temperature is reached (including safety margins). For equipment it is marked with the corresponding Temperature rating to say it will not reach that temperature.

There is a slight caveat for dust in that, unless specified otherwise, the standard certification will is only valid for up to a 5mm layer of dust on the equipment. An additional safety margin must be added if dust is allowed to build up beyond the specified thickness.
This is not because the dust in a layer presents a greater hazard (layered dust is generally not an explosive hazard) but that it can insulate the equipment causing a greater than 'tested' temperature rise.


  1. The original flashpoint limit for liguids to be considered under Atex was 55°C. In June 2015 this was raised to 60°C which brought some oils and Diesel within the scope of Atex. 

  2. Where Phosphine is present extra risk assessments are required and, as no standard equipment is suitably certified, specific temperature rise tests on equipment are required. Intrinsic safety is generally the preferred protection method. 

  3. The 75°C reduction is based on a standard assumption of no more than 5mm layer of dust. Should there be a likelihood of more than 5mm of dust accumulating then the reduction should be greater as detailed in EN 60079–14 (Section figure 1 

  4. A layer depth of 5mm is the default for certification unless stipulated differently in the Type certificate.