Fighting fire the space way
Start-up company ExxFire from ESA Business Incubation Centre Noordwijk has turned space technology into an efficient fire suppression system. A Japanese paint manufacturer and a Swedish truck builder have already selected it for their Dutch production facilities.
The system uses ‘cool-gas generators’ to fight fires in closed volumes in sensitive locations, like server racks in data centres and switching cabinets in production facilities.
In space, the cool-gas generator technology has been used by ESA to steer their Proba-2 satellite. On Earth, it is now fighting fires without harming the environment.
“Gas extinguishers are used wherever you don’t want any consequential damage, so you can’t use water to put out fires,” explains Edwin Verver of ExxFire BV.
Fire extinguishers typically contain nitrogen gas to suffocate flames. While today’s high-pressure cylinders require a great deal of maintenance, like regular control and refilling at regular intervals, ExxFire’s cool-gas generator stores the gas in a solid form in unpressurised cylinders that require no maintenance at all.
“While gas released from high pressure into a low-pressure volume becomes very cold, which could destroy sensitive electronics, for example, the ExxFire cool-gas generators avoid that. The nitrogen gas from ExxFire is released at room temperature. On top of this, the completely inert nitrogen is environmental friendly.”
More about this space spin-off here.