Inert gases

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Inert gases, also known as inerting gases, are extinguishing agents of natural origin. The comprise gases which occur naturally in the atmosphere and mixtures of such gases. They effectively extinguish group A, B and C fires, including fires involving high-voltage electrical devices. They are particularly recommended for spaces with high volumes (400 – 1000 m3). Their action in the extinguishing process involves filling the space with an inert gas and reducing the content of oxygen to a level below 12.50%. Such a low concentration of oxygen stops the combustion process.

The natural origin of these gases means that they are completely safe for people and the environment. Their net effect on greenhouse gases is neutral, as is their potential for harming the ozone layer. They are inert chemicals and do not cause corrosion. They do not cause fogging in buildings when in use. After application, they evaporate, leaving a clean and dry surface. Inert gases do not conduct electricity.

The group of inert gases includes:

• IG-01 – 100% argon

Argon is a noble gas which occurs in the amount of 0.93% by volume of the atmosphere which surrounds us. Its density compared to air is 1.38:1. As it is considerably heavier than air, it is recommended for fire suppression in spaces such as technical floors, where the upper part of the building is less well insulated. Due to its high degree of inertia, argon is recommended for suppression of metal fires.

• IG-100 – 100% nitrogen

The natural atmosphere contains about 78.1% nitrogen, with a concentration similar to that of air (0.967:1). Thanks to this, nitrogen provides optimal distribution in the area affected and maintains a concentration effective in extinguishing for a long period of time. This means that nitrogen is effective as an extinguishing agent for a wide variety of applications.

• IG-55 – 50% argon, 50% nitrogen

Argonite, a mixture of argon and nitrogen, is noncorrosive and can be used at normal temperatures with materials such as nickel, steel, stainless steel, copper, brass, bronze, and synthetic materials.

• IG-541 – 52% nitrogen, 40% argon and 8% carbon dioxide

The addition of a few percent of carbon dioxide to the mixture of argon and nitrogen stimulates the respiration processes of living organisms in the low-oxygen environment.

Inert gases are stored in container at pressures of 200 and 300 bar, remaining in a gaseous state. This fact in conjunction with the high concentrations foreseen by designs means that the battery of containers which accompany a fixed suppression system takes up considerably less space than in the case of chlorinated hydrocarbons (FE-36TM or FM-200®).