A small fire in critical facilities such as data centres, oil and gas facilities, power generation and transmission facilities can result in catastrophic loss by interrupting vital operations and damaging high-value equipment. In these situations, it is important that fires be knocked down quickly – before they have a chance to spread – and that sensitive data and electronics are not damaged in the process of putting out the fire, and continuity of operations is preserved.
3M Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid is a highly-efficient fire suppression alternative to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and Halons, with properties ideally suited to clean fire protection for critical assets, that is, non-conductive and leaves no residue.
The most popular alternatives to Halon have been HFCs, including HFC-227ea (FM-200 brand). The ozone depletion potential of HFCs is zero, but they are potent greenhouse gases. For instance, the global warming potential (GWP) of HFC-227ea is 3,220, that is, 3,220 times more potent than CO2 in its climate impact.
Regulations on HFCs
It should not be a surprise that there is growing cynicism about the differing perspectives in the clean agent fire suppression market regarding the future of HFCs. For those interested in sustainable investment to protect their valuable assets, it may be helpful to add some clarity to the events unfolding in 2014.
On March 12, 2014, the European Parliament voted to phase down use of HFCs 79 percent below average 2009 – 2012 levels by 2030. The provisions of the law begin in 2015.
Impacts of the EU Regulation on the fire suppression market include:
1 HFC-227ea, HFC-125, and HFC-236fa are targeted under the HFC phase-down.
2 HFC-23 (FE-13) will be prohibited after January 1, 2016.
3 3M Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid is not impacted by this regulation.
Under the HFC cap and phase-down, HFC-producers will be allocated a production/import quota for HFCs and will have difficult decisions to make. Because the quota will be in CO2 equivalent and HFCs sold into the fire suppression market have some of the highest GWPs, this framework does not favour HFCs sold into fire suppression. For example, an HFC producer would consume the same percentage of a quota by making either one ton of HFC-227ea, three tons of HFC-245fa, or five tons of HFC-32. This dynamic will put a substantial amount of uncertainty on the future supply and cost of HFCs sold into fire suppression.
On Tuesday, June 25, 2013 President Obama announced the release of a Climate Action Plan. Within the initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the plan proposes to reduce the use of HFCs both domestically and internationally through the Montreal Protocol. Under the plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will also be approving climate-friendly chemicals while prohibiting certain uses of more harmful HFCs. Earlier this year, EPA announced they will propose a rule in 2014 to change the status of HFCs under SNAP.
Waiting for the Smoke to Clear
It is clear that today’s policy realities suggest a future that severely restricts or financially burdens HFCs. Novec 1230 fluid has been commercial since 2002 and is a readily available alternative to immediately replace the use of HFCs in fire suppression, enabling the industry to essentially eliminate its dependence on potent greenhouse gases.
Novec 1230 fluid has an ozone depletion potential of zero and a GWP of less than one, enabling more than 99 percent reduction in GHG emissions. This fluid has been widely used in data centres, oil and gas processing facilities, electricity generation and transmission infrastructure, museums and other valued assets where continuity of operation is paramount.
Decisions about fire protection need to be made for the long term and the type of extinguishing agent used is an important component of that decision. When total cost of ownership is part of the agent selection process, sustainable technology like Novec 1230 fluid is a solution that will last the test of time.
For further information, go to www.3M.com/Novec1230fluid