October 27, 2020

What is Halon 1301 and its replacement used in fire extinguishers?

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What is Halon 1301?

Halon 1301 is a chemical gaseous compound with the chemical formula CBrF3. The Halon 1301 is also known as Bromotrifluoromethane, R13B1, Halon 13B1, or BTM. It was used in fire suppression in the past but not now. In comparison to other chemical compounds used in fire suppressants, this one is less toxic and very safe for human exposure. It can contain the fire easily because it leaves no residue. It has been rated as B in the flammable liquid and electric fires category, so it’s pretty safe when you are encountering an electric fire, and lastly, it is categorized as class A in common combustibles as well. But its production got banned in 1994 because the consumption of this chemical compound affected the ozone layer. It is still an integral part of fire extinguishers and other safety cylinders, but recycling and reusing is the only way to use it safely.

What is Halon 1301 replacement?

When the ban was imposed on halon 1301, experts were looking for Halon 1301 replacement. They needed a replacement that can cause less damage to the ozone layer and was still close to halon 1301 in terms of characteristics. The manufacturers of fire suppressants developed a few alternative clean agents in that response.

There were two basic kinds of halon 1301 replacement at that time.

Halocarbon-based agents: As the name suggests, the halocarbon-based agents are carbon-based compounds. They usually extinguish the fire by absorbing heat.

Inert gas agents: Inert gases are a compound of mixed gases including nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide. These gases extinguish fire via oxygen depletion therefore, a fire is extinguished.

Under the laws of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, the concerned authorities in the U.S are required to evaluate all sorts of chemicals that are used in fire extinguishers. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mainly responsible to oversee these chemicals and the processes that are used in fire extinguishing processes. If any process uses chemicals that affect the ozone layer, then it will be canceled. But if a process meets the criteria, then it will be acceptable by the organization from a human health and environmental perspective.

There have been a few Halon cleaning agents that are 70 % similar to Halon 1301 in their characteristics. For that reason, they are used in fire extinguishers. They leave no residue just as halon 1301 and seems a close halon 1301 replacement. These chemicals ensure that there is nothing to clean once the fire is out. There will be no corrosive or abrasive residue that needs your immediate attention. This way the property and assets will also be secure in the incident of fire. The chemical will go in the form of foam or gas that will be sprayed upon the fire. It will absorb the flames and leave the space with less smoke. The Halon chemicals can be used in class A, B, and C fires safely. When used timely, it ensures minimum damage and safety of personnel in the fire area.

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