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Fire Suppression Systems using Total Flooding

Systems working on a total flooding principle apply an extinguishing agent to an enclosed space in order to achieve a concentration of the agent (volume percent of the agent in air) adequate to extinguish the fire. These types of systems may be operated automatically by detection and related controls or manually by the operation of a system actuator. This is true for any gaseous total flooding agent irrespective of its mechanism of extinguishment.

1. Chemical effects - inhibition by halogen atoms. Bromine, iodine and chlorine atoms can act catalytically, each atom participating multiple times to scavenge important free radicals from the combustion gases. Bromine and chlorine are both much more potent than fluorine in this regard. Fluorine also reacts with free radicals but forms strong chemical bonds. Thus, fluorine atoms react only once and are then “consumed.”
2. Physical effects - thermal. The addition of any non-reactive gas to a flammable gas mixture leads to a reduction in flame temperature by virtue of the fact that the heat liberated by the reaction of oxygen molecule with a fuel species must be distributed into a larger heat sink. The rate of the combustion chemical reactions decreases rapidly with reductions in temperature. If the concentration of added inert gas is high enough the flame chemistry becomes too slow to propagate. The potency of an inert gas agent is related directly to the heat capacity of the gas composition.
3. Physical effects - dilution. Addition of a third gas to a fuel-air mixture has the effect of reducing the collision frequency of the oxygen and fuel species. This leads to a reduction in chemical reaction rates. The magnitude of the effect, however, is relatively minor compared to chemical inhibition or thermal effects.

In the case of inert gas agents for fire suppression, the extinguishing effects are entirely physical. In the case of halons the chemical inhibition effects are most important. For example the extinguishing mechanisms of halon 1301 has been reported to be a combination of 80% chemical effects and 20% physical effects. 5 In the case of hydrofluorocarbons the extinguishing effects are predominantly physical with some (estimate at about 10 to 15%) chemical effects.”

Total flooding is the most common system application of halons and has been employed for the protection of volumes containing essential electronics, machinery spaces on ships, aircraft engines and cargo bays, enclosed process modules in the oil and gas industry and both crew and engine compartments on military armored vehicles.

 
 
 
   
 
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