This was the first system of its kind with a full UL system listing using seamless cylinders pressurised to 42 bar, the company says.
The FS125 fire-suppression system is, according to product manager, fire-suppression Jaco Coetzee, at least 20% more efficient at extin-guishing fires than comparable products.
The solution, developed by global fire-suppression system supplier Safety Hi-Tech, requires less gas by weight and uses fewer cylinders, according to Coetzee.
The product’s selling point is that the gas used is more environment-friendly than Halon 1301 – a commonly used fire-suppressant gas until its ozone-depleting properties were discovered.
Afrox released its system locally in response to legislative demand.
The product releases an electrically nonconductive agent, which leaves no harmful residue.
Refrigerants and services business manager Christell le Roux says that water-based systems pose a high risk to sensitive material, such as documents, artefacts and, especially, high-value electronic equipment.
The FS125 system, in comparison, has no ozone depleting potential and can be used in occupied and unoccupied areas.
Previously, when companies were supplied with fire-suppression systems, the gas options available were often limited to halon and carbon dioxide.
In an article written by Dr Juan Vitali, formerly of the US Air Force research laboratory’s materials and manufacturing directorate, entitled ‘Halon Substitute Protects Aircrews and the Ozone Layer’, he says that, although halons make up only a small percentage of stratospheric ozone-depleting substances, as much as 23% of ozone depletion observed in recent years is due to halons.
When released into the lower atmosphere, halons do not break down and, within a year, diffuse into the stratosphere where they become fragmented by the sun’s ultraviolet light, thus releasing free halogen atoms that destroy ozone.
Carbon dioxide, when released into an occupied environment, can lead to asphyxiation and death if the occupants do not escape in time.
The international demand would have called for a system that would not lower oxygen to dangerously low levels in occupied spaces, and for a product that does not release ozone-depleting substances.
Afrox special products marketing and business-development manager Robert Stratton-Brown says that concern for using specialised ozone-friendly gas is on the rise.
He attributes this increased emphasis on environmental awareness and legislation, safety and corporate ethics, as well as time.
Legislation regarding the limita- tion of emissions, in line with the Montreal Protocol, means that South Africa – recognised as a developing nation – is to put in place methods and practices that are environmentally sound.
While compliance may not be as strict for developed countries, the government is pushing for legisla-tion to comply with international standards.
“Older cylinders currently containing halon are allowed to remain in place in buildings. If fire suppression is required, and the halon gas is used, the cylinders may not be refilled with the same gas. However, as from 2010 (halon phase-out date in South Africa), companies will be required to replace their systems when they have a discharge or when mandatory system pressure tests are required.” Environmental awareness is a key point that Stratton-Brown emphasises, because it has preceded legislation.
Afrox will soon be in a position to safely recover and dispose of halon.
This will be in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.