At the intersection of water mist systems and clean agents are hybrid suppression systems. The leading manufacturer of hybrid systems is Victaulic. Their Vortex system makes some of the smallest water droplets - only 10 microns - and has applications ranging from total flood to machinery space protection. These systems are also incredibly water efficient, generally using only a quarter of a gallon of water per minute. In this video, fire protection expert Lee Kaiser explains the features and applications of Victaulic Vortex hybrid suppression systems.
Lee: "Let's talk about hybrid fire suppression systems next. So in the middle here we're going to talk about hybrids, and this is an appropriate place to put this. We just got done talking about water mist, and we're getting ready to talk about clean agents. So in the middle is hybrids because hybrid systems borrow attributes from clean agent systems and also from water mist systems to make the hybrid. So let's talk about hybrid systems before we go to a break.
Combining Clean Agents and Water Mist
Victaulic Vortex is one manufacturer of hybrid systems. In fact, probably the leading manufacturer of hybrid systems, and you probably have heard about them because Victaulic, the company who makes grooved couplings to join a lot of our piping systems out there, you know, they're very aggressive in marketing their suppression system called Vortex, and again, it borrows inerting attributes from clean agents and then adds water into the mix to enhance the cooling effect. One neat thing about Vortex is it makes the smallest water droplets that we've talked about yet. Their nozzles can produce 10 micron water droplets, so very, very, extremely fine mist of water, and it's listed for extinguishing. So these are all extinguishing systems.
Now, one reason to talk about Vortex when we talk about new technology is because of the new standard that's being developed in NFPA. NFPA 770 is the Standard on Hybrid Fire Extinguishing Systems. It's currently under development. We expect it to be available for public use in 2020, and so until that standard's written, the Victaulic system only has FM approvals, okay, because they look at systems as a whole, but there are no UL listings, Underwriters Laboratory listings for the components until the NFPA standard comes out and then we'll see UL start to list equipment as Victaulic sends their equipment through the system.
Versatile Fire Suppression
Victaulic Vortex as far as extinguishing ability is something unique. It has, because the hybrid technology allows it to scale quite well, from very small fires where the nitrogen used to inert the atmosphere addresses the fires, to very large fires where it's a combination of nitrogen and the water mist in the air to cool and extinguish those fires, so it's ability to scale is one unique thing about it. It does create an oxygen-deficient atmosphere, so the air we're breathing today is at, you know, 21 percent oxygen, and then fires tend to go extinct, or go out, between 15 and 18 percent oxygen, and a Vortex system will lower the oxygen concentration down to around 14 percent to give us a little safety factor and make sure we extinguish it, and at 12 percent we get real nervous for human occupancy, so we need to be out of there within 5 minutes.
The emitters, okay, so I said nozzles over and over, but Vortex calls them emitters. This is a little video running of the mist coming out. What's happening is nitrogen comes into the emitter and then water also blends, so it's a two-pipe system that we can see here, and those two streams meet at this device called a foil at the bottom of the emitter. This picture shows what's happening with the water and the gas and the same time there's a little shockwave that happens above the foil. The water at the emitter is actually moving right here in that shockwave at about Mach 2, so twice the speed of sound, that's what helps bust apart the water into those very fine droplets, and then it slows from there. The water consumption of these emitters are really low, so down to a quarter of a gallon per minute. The sprinklers that are above our heads, a single sprinkler flows at around 30 gallons per minute. A water mist nozzle on the low end will go between 4 and 5 gallons per minute. Now, the Vortex emitters will go down to a quarter gallon a minute. We bump them up to a gallon per minute when we want to control larger Class B fire hazards, and then they are really low-pressure systems, pressures in this system range from around 25 PSI at the unit down to 5 PSI at the emitter.
Applications of the Victaulic Vortex System
There is is a picture, on this slide, of the Vortex system. We have high-pressure nitrogen cylinders that drive this system. Inside this red box is a small stainless-steel water tank that holds the water for it, and then the system pushes it out through a pressure control valve into the different piping streams to the emitters. Schedule 10 or Schedule 40 probably stainless-steel used for these systems.
Some of the applications, total flood, limited room ceiling required is the system that is tolerant of unclosable openings. Machinery space protection up to 127,000 cubic feet, and then local application we can use it for turbines, lube oil skids, the support turbines, printing presses, in the steel industry dip tanks and pickling lines. So a number of options there."