Oxygen-reducing technology is a potentially viable fire protection method
FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial and industrial property insurers, has released new research on oxygen reduction systems, finding them a potentially adequate fire protection method for certain well-sealed, unoccupied spaces.
Oxygen reduction systems (ORS) stream nitrogen into the spaces, lowering the oxygen level to reduce fire risk.
“We are cautiously optimistic about this new fire protection technology, provided the system is designed to the highest fire protection standards,” says FM Global’s Sergey Dorofeev, vice president, research area director.
FM Global details its findings, including the first large-scale fire tests involving ORS, in a new research technical report titled ‘Evaluation of Oxygen Reduction System (ORS) in Large-Scale Fire Tests’.
“An oxygen reduction system (ORS) is a fire prevention system that uses a low-oxygen environment to reduce, if not eliminate, the potential for ignition and fire propagation in a protected space,” the report details. “The key parameter for ORS design is the limiting oxygen concentration (LOC), defined as the lowest O2 concentration that can support combustion for a given fuel. However, at the low oxygen levels that are typically required, life safety concerns can be an important factor for the use of ORS.”
The report focuses on large-scale fire tests to determine the effective O2 design concentrations for ORS applications.
“FM Global recognises that ORS is a relatively new fire protection system which aims to maintain a steady low oxygen concentration in an enclosed protection space to control fire ignition and/or fire spread. The most important factor for the ORS to be effective is to maintain an oxygen level (LOC), below which the fire spread beyond the ignition location can be excluded. The LOC can be determined through appropriate bench-scale and large-scale tests for a specific fuel. In addition, to ensure adequate protection, systematic reliability analysis should be performed to develop the inspection, testing and maintenance (ITM) programs to provide the required availability of the system.”
The results in the report (and prior work) illustrate that, although ORS is not a replacement for fire sprinkler protection, ORS with adequate availability may be used in well-sealed and unoccupied enclosures that can consistently maintain a uniform reduced oxygen concentration.
“It is expected that the ORS satisfying these conditions can provide adequate protection with relatively low level of fire damage under certain conditions,” the report says.
The report is available for download (PDF) at no cost.
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