Is Halon Gas Banned?
Halon gas is a very effective fire extinguishing agent that was used in many fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems. It does, however, have negative environmental impacts which has led to a global intervention in the production and use of this gas.
What Is Halon Gas?
Halon gas is a chemical compound that is used as an extinguishing agent in fire extinguishers and fire suppression systems. Halons exist in two forms, Halon 1211 and Halon 1301.
Halon 1211 (BromoChlorodiFluoromethane [CF2ClBr], also known as BCF) is a streaming agent mostly used in portable fire extinguishers. Halon 1301 (Bromotrifluoromethane [CBrF3]) is a flooding agent that is used in gaseous fire suppression systems.
Halon fire suppression systems are electrically non-conductive, leave no residue, and cause no damage to property and equipment when discharged. These properties make halon fire suppression systems effective in extinguishing Class A, B, and C fires.
Why Are Halon Fire Suppression Systems Banned?
Halon fire suppression systems are generally considered to be safe to use in occupied spaces, although prolonged exposure to the gas should be avoided. It’s rather the environmental impact of halon gases that makes the use of this gas so controversial.
Halons have been found to be an ozone-depleting substance (ODS), as well as a greenhouse gas with an unacceptable global warming potential (GWP). Halon gases have a relatively long atmospheric lifetime and are broken down in the stratosphere, releasing reactive bromine that is extremely damaging to the ozone.
In 1987 an international treaty known as the Montreal Protocol recognised halon as a substance that contributes to the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer. Subsequent production and manufacturing of new halon products has been banned globally.
It’s worth noting that the use of halon is not banned, but rather the manufacturing of new halon products that’s been discontinued. While halon has gradually been phased out for non-essential use, many existing halon fire suppression systems are still in use to this day.
The Disposal and Recovery Of Halon Gas
With the discontinued production of new halons, there is a critical need to maintain a bank of halon gases for recharging existing systems. Halons are now solely obtained through authorised halon banking systems that facilitate the recovery, recycling and reclaiming of halon gases.
Halon recovery involves the collection and storage of halon gas from existing systems that are no longer in use. The recovered halon is then recycled and cleaned through a process of refrigeration and filtration that removes all of the contaminants (such as oils, nitrogen, moisture and other impurities). Halon is then reclaimed by means of filtering, drying, distillation and chemical treatment in order to restore the gas to its original performance standard.
Decommissioned halon fire systems and obsolete systems that are no longer needed can be safely disposed of through registered halon banks.
Fire and Security Techniques is an authorised halon bank and recovery facility that works in conjunction with the Halon Bank of South Africa. We assist with recovery, recycling, and refilling of existing halon fire suppression systems.
Halon Fire Suppression Alternative
Halon manufacturing bans have left the fire protection industry seeking alternative extinguishing agents to replace halon. There are many clean agent fire suppression systems that function as safe and effective alternatives to halon gas systems.
Halon gas replacements must have low environmental impacts, acceptable toxicity levels, and a clean discharge. The most popular extinguishing agents used to replace Halon 1301 include HFC-227ea, FK-5-1-12, and inert gas blends.
HFC-227ea (Heptafluoropropane) is a colourless, non-toxic halocarbon agent used in our Eckoshield® 227ea fire suppression systems. It has no ozone depletion effects, an atmospheric lifetime of approximately 31-42 years, and a global warming potential of 3 220 over 100 years.
FK-5-1-12 (fluorinated ketone) is a colourless, non-toxic halocarbon agent used in our Eckoshield® 1230 fire suppression systems. It has no ozone depletion effects, an atmospheric lifetime of approximately 5 days, and a global warming potential of 1 over 100 years (the lowest of any chemical fire suppressant).
A mixture of three inert gases (nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide) combine to form the gaseous extinguishing agent used in our Inergen® IG-541 fire suppression systems. The Inergen® agent is composed of naturally occurring atmospheric gases, therefore it has no ozone depletion effects and does not contribute to global warming.
It’s atmospheric lifetime is instantaneous as the gases return to the atmosphere in its natural state. This makes inert gas fire suppression systems the most environmentally friendly clean agent system.
FST Halon Banking
Fire and Security Techniques is an authorised halon bank vendor and recovery facility that operates in conjunction with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and the Halon Bank of South Africa.
Contact us for assistance with halon gas disposal or recharging existing halon fire suppression systems. We offer a variety of halon fire suppression alternatives for a more environmentally friendly fire protection solution.