When to Consider CO2 Fire Protection Systems
Since the 1920’s, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) automatic fire protection systems have been used across a variety of industries and applications to provide waterless fire extinguishment. CO2 is a powerful firefighting medium and understanding its capabilities helps stakeholders determine when it’s most appropriate to use these types of systems.
How CO2 Fights a Fire
Carbon Dioxide is a colorless, odorless, and electrically-nonconductive gas that fights fire by physically attacking all three points of the fire triangle. The primary attack is on the oxygen content of the atmosphere via oxygen reduction. The CO2 discharge into the fire zone displaces oxygen to a point at which combustion is no longer sustainable. The discharging CO2 also provides some cooling in the fire zone, which limits combustibility and further prevents the gasification of fuels.
Automatic CO2 systems come in high-pressure or low-pressure system configurations. High-pressure systems are more practical and cost efficient in small to medium sized applications. Low-pressure CO2 systems are bulk storage systems used to protect large applications, or are used when a large central storage system is required. CO2 systems are designed to be either a “total flooding” or “local application” discharge. Total flooding systems discharge a concentration of CO2 throughout the entire volume of the protected space. Local application systems discharge directly around the protected assets and are useful when total flooding firefighting is uneconomical due to the size of the enclosure.
CO2 Systems are ideal for industrial processes where flammable materials and vapors present a potential hazard. CO2 is not recommended for normally occupied spaces, except when other means of fire protection are not effective. Some typical applications are the following:
Turbine and Diesel Generators; Large Commercial Fryers; Industrial Ovens; Spray Booths and Paint Lockers; Flammable Liquid Storage Areas; Mixing Operations; Dust Collectors; Exhaust Ducts; Machinery Spaces; Precision Machine Tooling; Quench and Dip Tanks; Laboratory Configurations and Test Cells