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Oxygen reduction system and airtightness: an excellent example

The key elements required for the ignition of fire are fuel, heat energy and oxygen. Dry air contains roughly 21% of oxygen by volume. Real test data proves that no fire can ignite if the oxygen concentration is less than 16%.


By using hypoxic air technology it is possible to reduce the oxygen concentration in the room to 15% or lower by filtering the air through a membrane to remove oxygen molecules, which can be used for active fire protection. Such active fire protection technology is becoming more popular for protecting critical objects such as data centers, archives and warehouses.


The Airtightness of the building envelope plays a very crucial role in the overall performance & efficiency of the system. The leakage of air through building fabric would not only reduces the efficiency but also poses significant risk of system failure in the event of fire. Besides this, the leakage also causes the continuous operation of compressors and filters to supplement the air leakage and thus it increases the operational cost of the system.


Buildingdoctor team was involved in the commissioning of one of the biggest (approx. volume: 236000 m3) automated warehouses protected by such an oxygen reduction system located in JAFZA south. The fully automated warehouse is intended to store a large range of items for different types of department stores. The total envelope of the warehouse of the building is made up of prefabricated sandwich panels. The test yielded a impressive result of 0.04 ACH at 50 Pa. In other words, the building demonstrated a leakage rate of just 4% of its volume per hour at an applied pressure of 50 Pa, which is pre-eminent.


By careful detailing of the construction joints, consistent sealing of the service penetrations, installing appropriate airtight seals/ gaskets to doors, it is possible to achieve good airtightness in the building. Similar solutions can also be applied for cold storage buildings to improve the energy efficiency of cold storages units and reduce the problems of infiltration and condensation.


References

Zimmer, Carl (3 October 2013). "Earth's Oxygen: A Mystery Easy to Take for Granted". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 April 2019.

PAS 95:2011 Hypoxic air fire prevention systems. Specification". BSI.

Cancelliere, Piergiacomo. (2018). Design of Oxygen Reduction Systems In Active Fire Protection Strategy.

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