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Chemical Fire Suppressants: How Can We Replace Halon?.
NAVY TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR SAFETY AND SURVIVABILITY WASHINGTON DC
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Halons, halogenated hydrocarbons containing bromine, appeared on the scene for fire suppression in the late 1940s following a U.S. Army study to identify effective agents. Halon 1301, bromotrifluoromethane, with its low boiling point is extremely effective in total flooding applications, which rely on the agent completely filling the space to be protected. Halons that exhibit good fire suppression properties but have boiling points closer to room temperature Halon 1211, bromochlorodifluoromethane, and Halon 2402, dibromotetrafluoroethane are more suitable for streaming agent which can be directed toward the fire threat as a liquid stream, typically from hand-held units. Interestingly, Halon 1301 was not the most effective total flooding compound on the list. However, Halon 1301 provides a near optimum combination of good fire suppression effectiveness, low toxicity, suitably low boiling point, and a reasonably low density and molecular weight. The combined effectiveness and desirable properties quickly accelerated the use of halons to a wide range of fire suppression applications, including movable platforms such as ships and planes. Dependence on halons increased as more and more fire suppression systems were engineered around these compounds.
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