Technology Corner

Here at the Fire Protection Industry (ODS & SGG) Board we are committed to promoting all things new in our industry, especially when it comes to technology. We have a particular interest in discovering examples of companies that have transitioned to alternative systems that do not use ODS or SGG scheduled agents. Here at the Technology Corner, you will also find information on new ISO standards, news regarding major technological advancements in the industry and general information on alternative technologies.

If you would like to contribute to our Technology Corner and share your expertise on any of the areas mentioned above, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us by phone on 03 8892 3161 or via email at ozone@fpib.com.au. To learn more about alternative systems used in fire protection, view our factsheet by clicking here

Santos Port Bonython opts for fluorinated ketone

Santos, one of the most prominent independent oil and gas producers in the Asia-Pacific region, has transitioned to environmentally cleaner extinguishing agents. Santos removed all of its HCFC Blend A cylinders from their Port Bonython processing facility in South Australia, replacing it with fluorinated ketone. To learn more about Santos' decision-making process, read our latest GasBag by clicking here.

santos 1 santos 2

Before and after: Santos Port Bonython removed its HCFC Blend A containers (pictured left) in favour of containers that use fluorinated ketone (pictured right). 

New ISO standard for Oxygen reduction systems 

The newly published Standard ISO 20338 Oxygen reduction systems for fire prevention (ORFPS)- Design, installation, planning and maintenance,provides another alternative for special hazards system designers and end users to consider when evaluating options for the protection of critical infrastructure or assets.   

ISO 20338 which was published in late 2019, specifies the minimum requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of ORFPS, including those required to ensure safety of personnel. 

Whilst ORFPS are a relatively new arrival on the fire protection scene, they potentially offer some intriguing benefits for some applications where gaseous fire protection systems might normally be used. ORFPS are designed to create and maintain an oxygen reduced atmosphere (typically below 15% oxygen) within an enclosure to prevent the ignition of combustible material. 

It is important to note though, that the installation of an ORFPS, whilst theoretically preventing the initiation and propagation of fire, does not negate the need for installation of other fire protection systems, such as smoke detection and alarm systems.

Some of the potential benefits of ORFPS include:

  • Continuous (24/7) flaming fire prevention
  • Elimination of damage from flaming combustion
  • Environmentally friendly as no ODP or SGG are used

 Potential applications include:

  • Archive stores
  • Electrical switch rooms
  • Data centres
  • Warehouses
  • Museums and preservation of historically significant artefacts

Sydney Metro opts for IG-55

For Sydney Metro, the decision to install a fire suppression system containing IG-55 at its newly constructed Rouse Hill control room was underpinned by an overarching desire to carefully consider its social responsibility.

For Australia's largest public transport infrastructure project, being environmentally responsible means mitigating or reducing pollution and emissions, and demonstrating stewardship towards the natural environment.

A Sydney Metro spokesperson told the Fire Protection Industry (ODS & SGG) Board the project works closely with Principal Contractors to ensure the successful delivery and implementation of sustainability standards, targets and initiatives.

"In this specific instance (installing IG-55), the requirement of the use of a zero ozone depletion potential gas was stipulated in the contract, including having a minimum global warming potential, not detrimental to human health and is approved and permitted for use in NSW," the spokesperson explained.

The project's decision to use a non-ozone depleting-substance was vindicated in July 2019, when an accidental discharge occurred in its Rouse Hill control room.

Sydney Metro control room

Although disruptive at the time, the fact Sydney Metro had an IG-55 based system meant it avoided emitting a large mass of environmentally harmful chemical agent usually required in applications such as a control room.

The Sydney Metro spokesperson touched on the project's ongoing efforts to ensure it remains focused on environmental management and sustainability - especially when it comes to fire protection.

"The project has a sustainability plan which aims to minimise our global warming potential and the use of alternative substances for fire suppression was part of that approach.

"From Metro Trains Sydney's perspective [Sydney Metro's operator], the safety risks and regulatory framework associated with the use of IG-55 are lower, and therefore provided benefits in an operational context," the spokesperson added.

For Sydney Metro, developing effective and appropriate responses to the key challenges of today and tomorrow such as climate resilience is a key pillar that underpins its sustainability model.

"Sydney Metro will continue to focus on reducing our impacts on climate change and reduce high CO2 potential substances where suitable alternatives exist," the project spokesperson said.

By choosing to move away from scheduled ODS and SGG agents to a cleaner alternative such as IG-55, the project has paved the way for other major organisations to follow suit.

Some key technical points about inert gases:

  • IG-55 is an inert gas which is made up of 50% nitrogen and 50% argon.
  • Inert gases reduce the oxygen in a risk environment to the point that fire cannot be sustained.
  • In most cases it ensures oxygen in the room does not decrease to an unsafe level for humans.
  • Using inert gas can avoid unwanted chemical reactions affecting the protected equipment or other valuable assets.
  • Inert gas systems have some advantages over ODS and SGG systems including more flexible pipework installation, longer hold times and better environmental profile.

To read more about Sydney Metro's approach to sustainability, click the following link https://www.sydneymetro.info/our-approach-sustainability