Saturday, July 20, 2024

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Detecting fire to immediately douse the flames

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Pretoria-based ExploSpot Systems offers an exceptional and innovative solution to detect and suppress a fire in a vehicle or other confined spaces. Its autonomous high-pressure system can detect any hydrocarbon fire or explosion in under a second, thereby mitigating the risk of propagation, temperature increase and build-up of toxic gases.

According to chief executive Arend Späth, a high level of worker or asset protection can only be achieved if an explosion is suppressed within 100 milliseconds (a millisecond is one-thousandth of a second).

Seeing that a combustion explosion develops rapidly in ten milliseconds, after which the temperature and pressure start to exceed human tolerance, the ExploSpot system has to kick in immediately.

“Tests have shown that our ultra-high-speed ExploSpot detectors can detect and verify the explosion within two milliseconds, whereafter suppression is automatically activated,” Späth explained. “Within 100 milliseconds total flooding has occurred, thus keeping the pressure and temperature far below human tolerance.”

Among the systems ExploSpot showcased at Securex 2024 in Midrand this week were its automatic truck cab fire suppression module (ATFSM) and the automatic generator fire suppression module (AGFSM). ExploSpot also offers a compact automatic fire and explosion suppression module weighing only 9.2 kg.

The fire is detected by optical infrared (IR) sensors positioned inside the vehicle cabin for optimal performance. ExploSpot states that the detectors are designed for false alarm immunity, i.e. it is able to distinguish light sources like direct sunlight, a rifle flash or a match being lit.

The extinguishant bottles optimally installed throughout the vehicle interior contain an extinguishing agent that is mostly clean agent gas (class ABCEF). In the case of the automatic generator fire suppression module, suppression options could be clean agent gas, carbon dioxide (CO2) or powder (class ABCE).

A key safety feature of the activation mechanism of the bottles is dual activation pins.

A control box allows for built-in test and alarm indications, e.g. to detect wiring and pressure faults or low power. Additionally, it enables manual operation of the system. All components connected to the control box are monitored in real time to make installation, servicing and commissioning as easy as monitoring the user interface.

The company has a proven record, having supplied a variety of systems to several defence forces around the world. Some of these include fire and explosion suppression for the vehicle engine compartment and wheel wells.

ExploSpot Systems is the only South African explosion suppression system original equipment manufacturer (OEM). It is also the only company in the world to have developed and produced the ultra-fast, fully effective and reliable explosion suppression system to stop methane and coal dust explosions in mining operations in accordance with the SIMRAC Protocol (Safety in Mines Research Advisory Committee).

“Our Active Explosion Barriers are used to contain and suppress a methane gas and/or coal dust explosion propagation,” Späth said. “Research done in 1998 indicated that active explosion barriers are well suited to be used on mechanised cutting machines, making it the only technology that could suppress a methane gas and/or coal dust explosion during its propagation phase at the cutting face.”

The company’s explosion detection and suppression systems are also used in the transportation and storage of explosive in goldmines. These systems are quick enough to mitigate the risk of secondary explosions in explosive magazines or modular units used in the cargo bay of vehicles transporting the explosives.

In recent times, with the proliferation of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries in numerous applications, ExploSpot’s technology is much sought after. According to Späth, classic fire detection and suppression might not apply, hence ExploSpot’s solution is thermal runaway suppression material. It has been tested by TUV in Germany, Dekra and the Fraunhofer Institutes.

“The material extracts the heat from the Li-ion source, thereby isolating the thermal runaway and suppressing any occurring fire,” he stated.

ExploSpot Systems produces in South Africa, but has a global footprint, mainly Australia, China, the USA and the Middle East.

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