Austrian institute verifies local suppression system

Environmental solutions company I-CAT Fire Solutions in January this year commissioned the Institut fur Brandschutztechnik und Sicherheitsforschung, or the Institute for Fire Protection and Security Research (IBS Institute) in Linz, Austria, to certify the suitability of its fire suppression system for large transformers.

I-CAT Fire Solutions transformer fire suppression systems – which are available as foam mist deluge systems – were also awarded certification and verification in South Africa in accordance with the IBS Institute and local industry body National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) design guidelines.

The basis of the certificate is conformance to international standard ONR CEN/TS 14972, and performance requirements set out in NFPA 750.

Large-scale witness testing was conducted at training operator Emergency Training Solutions’ facility in Redan, Vereeniging, to prove to the local market that the systems are suited to local and international requirements.

“Not only was it more cost-effective to conduct the testing and certification in South Africa but it also gave I-CAT Fire Solutions the opportunity to demonstrate to the South African fire industry the notable benefits of foam and water mist systems,” highlights I-CAT Fire Solutions mechanical engineer Jeanri van Tonder.

I-CAT Fire Solutions business developer Jacques Bodenstein adds that the verification and certification are important to I-CAT Fire Solutions clients and have already made a “substantial difference” in its business, with new interest in the company’s transformer suppression system also having been generated.

Various test scenarios were carried out using a large transformer design mock-up, spanning 5 m × 8 m. The first testing scenario included the high- and low-voltage conductors being at the top of the transformer, with a 5 m2 fuel pan, 15 MW fire load and fuel overflow. A further scenario included the high- and low-voltage conductors being placed at the bottom with a 25 m2 fuel pan and 70 MW fire load. The main requirement was an extinguishing time of under two minutes for stored-pressure systems.

I-CAT Fire Solutions tested the mist deluge systems and stored-pressure rotor technology systems because transformers are often far removed from available water sources, therefore making it a complex and expensive process to mitigate fire risk. The system allows for minimal damage to transformers without having to use large quantities of water or water pumps.

Van Tonder suggests that it outperforms dry chemical powder systems, owing to the rapid cooling caused by atomised water droplets. “Using a fine foam or water mist displaces oxygen, and rapidly removes energy from the fire, while the equipment is cooled down to prevent reignition.”

For hydrocarbon applications, such as transformer suppression, I-CAT Fire Solutions also uses an effective additive called Telesolv 1%, to create a fine foam mist that significantly enhances the fire suppression capability of the water mist system.

Pre-engineered foam mist systems have been designed exclusively for transformers of up to 185 m2 in size and 132 kV in capacity, in accordance with IBS Institute test data.

The technology used in the I-CAT Fire Solutions systems – a patented technology supplied and manufactured exclusively for the suppression of transformer applications globally – was originally developed in Europe. I-CAT Fire Solutions continues to conduct further in-house research, development and testing to maximise the application of the misting technology in South Africa and can customise it for any required application.

Van Tonder highlights that the systems are suited to companies that operate in the commercial, industrial and mining industries where equipment, such as transformers, requires efficient fire-suppression systems that will mitigate fire risks.

I-CAT Fire Solutions hopes to further encourage the market to realise the many advantages of foam and water mist systems over conventional sprinkler and other suppression systems.

Further, I-CAT Fire Solutions strives to make its innovative systems more accessible to the South African markets that require fire risk mitigation, as well as reduced infrastructure cost and large water consumption.

“I-CAT Fire Solutions foam mist fire-suppression systems have been certified as a suitable type of fire suppression system for large transformers through the IBS accreditation,” concludes Van Tonder.