Early detection is critical in combating electrical fires in confined spaces and mitigating the risk of injuries and fatalities, while limiting high-value equipment damage and system downtime, says environmental solutions provider I-CAT.
To eliminate the difficulties associated with fire detection in enclosed spaces – such as manoeuvring through a confined and restricted space, and assessing multiple ignition sources – the company has launched I-Protect, an automatic fire detection and suppression system.
The system, officially launched last month, uses specific heat-sensitive fire-detection tubing and a nonconductive, nonhazardous extinguishing agent to detect and directly suppress fires at the point of ignition or heat source.
I-CAT fires division consultant Andro Gibhard says this direct suppression occurs because I-Protect detection tubing reacts to heat, rather than smoke. “In terms of fire, the process starts with heat, then smoke and lastly flames. Therefore, a significant amount of damage can be done before a smoke detection system activates.”
Additionally, most smoke detectors are mounted on or near a ceiling, costing companies precious seconds while the smoke rises up to the smoke detector.
The I-Protect tubing, which is pressurised with an extinguishing agent from a fire-suppression cylinder, runs through the equipment without interfering with the electronics or functionality. “The tubing acts as a trigger mechanism and directed discharge method for the suppression agent at the source of the fire. The tubing is purely pneumatic in its functioning and does not rely on a power source,” Gibhard notes, adding that this ensures high system reliability and fewer false alarms.
“The heat-sensitive tubing activates when exposed to specific elevated temperatures and then suppresses the source of the fire virtually instantaneously,” says I-CAT business development and marketing director Lourens Jansen van Rensburg.
The activation results in minimal to no property damage, owing to the nonconductive and extinguishing properties of the CLEAVOS 1230 suppression agent used, which is also nonflammable and nonhazardous. Further, unlike most gas fire suppression systems operating on a flooding principle, I-Protect is a direct targeted system, which means that other electrical equipment will not indiscriminately be doused. This increases the effectiveness of the system and drives down the cost of system implementation and maintenance.
The I-Protect system consists of a cylinder, tube and an accessories kit and is
best suited to protect electrical panels, wind turbines, server rooms and telecommunications environments. However, the system is ideal to protect any enclosure containing high-value electronic equipment, states Gibhard.
This, he says, applies to mining applications too, which include generators, switchgear and programmable logic controllers often used in automated mineral processing equipment.