Environmentally friendly fire extinguishing agent

February 2012 Fire & Safety

SEVO Systems’ distribution partner for sub-Saharan Africa, Brigit Fire has a solution to environmentally hazardous fire suppressions systems. The SEVO FORCE500 System uses Novec 1230 fluid, providing the ideal replacement for halon and HFCs.

An accelerated emphasis on protecting the Earth’s environment has led to the adoption of a number of global protocols. Companies find that increasing pressure to comply results in one of two actions: they flounder and go out of business or they adapt and grow. There is simply no middle road.

One area where mounting concerns over the negative effects of halon 1301 have caused consternation is in the fire extinguishing agent industry. As a result, the production of halon was phased out in the early 1990s under the terms of the Montreal Protocol. In many parts of the world, the use of halon is now illegal except in very specialised, critical applications.

The need for a replacement led to the development of hydrofluorocarbon agents (HFCs). Whilst HFCs offered a positive short-term solution to the use of halon, it still has a substantial negative effect on the ozone layer.

The concerns about global warming and the high GWP of HFCs in fire protection creates issues for those who are currently specifying or purchasing fire protection installations. Apart from the ethical concerns, there is the risk that future bans or restrictions may mean that an HFC system installed today would need to be replaced long before it has reached the normal end of its useful life. The costs of carrying out this replacement work could be substantial.

The shortcomings of HFCs led 3M to search for a fire protection agent with environmental characteristics superior to those of any agent previously available and offering a viable long-term solution for special hazards fire protection. The resultant 3M Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid has zero ozone depletion potential, but its key differentiating attribute is its global warming potential of just 1, which is a dramatic reduction from the 3220 for the most common HFC. In addition, Novec 1230 fluid’s atmospheric lifetime is only five days, in contrast to a period of about 30 years for HFCs.

SEVO Systems in the USA was formed in 2001 to develop and commercialise this new technology in collaboration with 3M. SEVO has raised the bar for special hazards fire suppression by being the only company to offer 34,5 bar (500 psi) pre-engineered and engineered systems for use in conventional welded cylinders.

More pressure allows for the retrofit of existing halon 1301 systems. The SEVO FORCE500 solution enables you to use existing piping and meet the requirements of industry standards and specifications by simply changing your cylinders and nozzles.

Novec 1230 fluid is typically used at a concentration of between 4,5% and 5,85%, but the no observed adverse effects (NOAL) level is 10%. Therefore, its safety margin is between 71% and 122% – the widest margin of safety of any viable chemical replacement for halon.

Novec 1230 fluid is stored as a liquid, rather than as a pressurised gas. It instantly dissipates to form a gas when it is discharged from a properly designed system. This means it can be easily transported in bulk, and refilling a system after discharge is much simpler and convenient than working with bulk pressurised gas supplies.

In addition, cylinders containing Novec 1230 fluid occupy significantly less space than cylinders of CO2 or inert gas systems.

Novec 1230 fluid is suitable for delivery by flooding, and its non-corrosive, non-conductive properties make it ideal for protecting sensitive equipment such as telecommunications and computer installations.

3M backs its technology with its unique Blue SkySM Warranty. Under the terms of this warranty, if Novec 1230 fluid is banned from or restricted for use as a fire protection agent because of its ozone depletion or global warming potential, 3M will refund the price of the fluid. The warranty is valid for 20 years.

Left to right: Judah Padi, Yemi Fatunla, Deon van Zyl and Jon Flamm
Left to right: Judah Padi, Yemi Fatunla, Deon van Zyl and Jon Flamm

For more information contact Deon van Zyl, +27 (0)83 459 1432, [email protected] , www.brigit.co.za


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