Typical Problems With Other Clean Agent Systems
Can Lead to Hydrofluorocarbon Toxicity
Extremely Hazardous to Humans
Most of these hydrofluorocarbons have human exposure toxicity limits very close to their required extinguishing design concentrations; therefore, they are more sensitive to changes in room storage filling capacity in terms of posing a risk to occupants. These exposure limits are typically restricted to five minute or less exposure times; occupants with reduced evacuation capability, such as those injured, aged, disabled or even medical patients may find this evacuation time challenging, and the increased cardiotoxicity risk with many of these new extinguishants makes limited exposure scenarios even more critical.
The Dangers of Hydrogen Fluoride
Once discharged into a room, if these hydrofluorocarbons are exposed to an open flame they will decompose into large quantities of hydrogen fluoride, a gas that can produce a caustic acid when exposed to moisture that can pose a real health hazard to occupants or rescue personnel, or even equipment, when exposed to fires bigger than a small circuit board, particularly if it takes some time to detect the fire. For this reason, the U.S. Navy uses water mist to wash out hydrofluoric acid after hydrofluorocarbon discharge into a machinery space fire, in addition to cooling the compartments, to protect firefighter personnel.
Flexible Installation Options
Our Simple, unique technology offers a wide variety of installation options that can accomodate even the most challenging situations.See our Product Family and Installation Options
Did You Know?
Many of today's clean agent fire suppression systems create hazardous Hydrogen Fluoride (HF) decomposition gases when exposed to an open flame. N2 Generators create zero HF gases.Compare N2 to other Fire Suppression Systems
Difficult & Expensive to Install
Large Bottle Farms
Current state-of-the-art total flood fire protection systems typically comprise a bank of multiple pressurized bottles that hold the extinguishant, stored at high pressure using special thick-walled metal bottles to permit liquefication of the extinguishant, or increase the total mass stored if nonliquefied gases (such as nitrogen or argon) are used.
Valves, Piping and Engineer Required
They are released by high-strength, special purpose valves on the bottle when activated either manually or via an alarm control panel. A complex plumbing network has to be designed to transmit the extinguishant at masses required to meet precise extinguishing concentrations within a tight tolerance band of room concentration required to meet both the extinguishing and inhalation toxicity requirements, with independent capacities required for individual rooms in a typical multi-room protection scenario (such as a factory or high-rise building) using the same distribution network. This requires considerable effort and expense up front in the development of flow calculation methodologies to support the safe engineering of systems for such complex flow configurations.
Inflexible to Changes in the Room's "Free Volume"
It should be noted that the adequacy of this approach is predicated upon an accurate knowledge of the "free volume" (room volume minus space for equipment and furniture, etc.) anticipated over the operational life of the protected compartments, given changes in its contents, etc.; increased equipment placed in the room can easily result in an increase in discharge concentration beyond that which is safe for human exposure.
The expense of using such a distribution network is also experienced when a system is installed at a customer site; complicated piping networks must be designed and installed on site with a notable labor expense; if the system is retrofitted into an existing building, significantly higher costs are incurred in tearing out existing drywall and other infrastructure.
Leak Prone with High Maintenance Requirements
Such high-pressure bottles are prone to leak, thereby requiring frequent inspection. If a leak is noted, the high pressure bottles may need to be sent to a central re-filling installation, resulting in protection down time at the customer site.
Vulnerable to Manmade and Natural Disasters
A system can be similarly disabled by a manmade or natural disaster, such as a gas leak explosion, tornado or earthquake, which can damage a piping network, including water sprinkler mains, thereby rendering a system virtually useless.
Research over the last fifteen years has resulted in a myriad of "first generation" Halon replacements, including "clean" hydrofluorocarbons, which have been deployed in recent years.
These chemicals behave in a similar manner to Halon 1301, except their greatly reduced effectiveness in comparison (since they typically do not have the flame chemistry inhibition of Halon 1301) results in systems requiring from two to ten times the extinguishant mass and storage space, and being generally more expensive results in a more costly alternative from both an extinguishant and hardware perspective.
In addition, the increased storage space requirement for a large increase in extinguishant bottles poses a difficult placement problem for facility engineers, and a considerable obstacle for those wishing to retrofit an existing Halon installation with a bottle "farm" many times bigger than its Halon predecessor in a limited storage space.
Vulnerable to Environmental Legislation
Finally, most of these chemicals have been determined to have long atmospheric lifetimes, thereby making them subject to subsequent global warming legislation worldwide in line with the Kyoto Protocol over the next few years.
"Environmentally friendly" alternatives to the hydrofluorocarbons have been proposed and even fielded to a limited degree, but also suffer from their own design and operational limitations.