Air motors are well known for being a "safe" drive choice in potentially explosive environments. They normally do not overheat or “burn out” and do not throw sparks. Many engineers use them in hazardous areas without a second thought.
We all know a risk assessment should be done on any piece of equipment going into a workplace; however we see people automatically assuming that all air motors are safe. When certain gases are present, equipment that generates over 90OC surface temperature are not acceptable.
If the work place is likely to have an explosive atmosphere due to dust or gases, the use of ATEX approved air motors will give the risk assessor a higher level of confidence about the motor. The ATEX approval is a European standard for equipment that is used in explosive atmospheres. An approved motor will have a code on it that shows what environment it is suited to (eg mining or industrial), what form of hazardous materials it is safe for (eg gas or dust) as well as the rated surface temperature of the motor.
To use the approval, the motor manufacturer has to supply motors and operating instructions to an independent testing facility. The motors are then tested and rated according to their maximum surface temperature. Information about recommended maintenance intervals and surface temperature testing must also be included in the operating instructions.