There any many different types of fire suppression agents on the market. All have their advantages and disadvantages.
In contrast, Chemical systems, such as FM-200 are very different.
These are manufactured chemical extinguishing agents, normally HFC’s, which works at low concentrations and attack the fire directly at a molecular level, rather than by reducing Oxygen levels.
They are low-pressure systems, generally, 25 bars, and the agent is stored as a liquid, super-pressurised with Nitrogen to “push” them along the pipework.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of:
Chemical Systems (FM200/NOVEC/CO2) v Inert Systems (i3/Inergen)
Discharge within 10 seconds ensuring rapid knockdown of fire.
Low-pressure storage (25bar)
Stored as a liquid meaning smaller footprint of hardware than Inert Gas Systems
Do not reduce Oxygen levels
Can be modular in design, enabling simple pipework installations
Easy to retrofit – Additional cylinders can be added, or levels “topped up” without risk of Over Pressurising the enclosure
Zero Ozone Depletion Potential
The negatives with Chemical Systems are:
All of the fire suppression systems both Inert and Chemical are approved for use all over the world by bodies such as UL, FM, LPCB etc and are recognized by Environmental Agencies like the EPA as being suitable for use in normally occupied spaces.
Inert Systems (i3/Inergen)
These systems, which are stored at a pressure of between 150bar and 300 bar, extinguish fires in a passive manner. They reduce the Oxygen content within the protected enclosure to a point where fire can no longer survive.
The benefits of these type of system are:
The negatives with Inert Gas Systems:
Some Global Warming Potential
Small possibility of breakdown products if in direct contact with large flame
Being low pressure, cylinders need to be stored as close to enclosure being protected as possible
More difficult to retain once discharged, as agents are heavier than air
Being high pressure, they can be stored long distances from the risk being protected.
They have a zero ozone depletion potential
Very low Global Warming Potential
No possibility of breakdown products
Discharge time is 60 seconds
Are able to be used in multi-room engineered systems (many risks from one bank of cylinders)
Similar density to air, meaning easier to retain after discharge