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Chinese Plant Explosion Impacts HFC-based Clean Agents December 24, 2010

Posted by shawnpci in Fire Protection, Fire Systems, Uncategorized.
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DuPont recently notified clean agent system hardware manufacturers that HFC-based clean agents such as HFC-227-ea (branded as FM-200) and HFC-125 (branded as ECARO) could be at reduced production levels due to a plant explosion in China.

According to a recent industry newsletter, the Chinese plant where the explosion occurred produces a base raw material used in the manufacturing of HFC-based clean agents. Without continuing supplies of this base raw material, production of new agent may be affected.

The length of the disruption in the supply chain and the extent of the agent shortages is unknown. As a result, manufacturers have in many cases have passed along price increases to distributors and installers of their products.

Recycled agents are available from several EPA approved vendors, however, their supply is subject to availability of salvaged sources.


1. John Brock - December 27, 2010

This uncertainty of when and how much is troubling. More information and clarity is definitely needed. Add the proposed increase in design concentration and one may be hearing from our customers. ie: wasn’t pre-action sufficient? 1301, and ‘now’ what should I do?

Anyone have any suggestions or dialog to help stay in front of this?

shawnpci - December 27, 2010

John, you raise some excellent questions. As if the industry didn’t have enough challenges facing it, now comes this issue.

I’m finding that straight talk and transparency are highly valued by my customers and prospective clients. Shooting straight with what’s in play and giving them sources to check it out themselves seems to be appreciated and is positioning our value proposals in a coveted spot.

With issues like these in play, membership in trade associations such as FSSA is all the more important. It’s the only source I know of where industry leaders, movers and shakers gather to address common issues. Next meeting is scheduled for February 25 – March 1 in San Juan, PR. You can learn more at http://www.fssa.net.

2. Stan - February 4, 2011

Is there an official site, where we can find proof of price increase HFC 227, that will be helpfull in dealing with customers, quite frankly many of them do not believe that 100% increase is possible in such short time period. Please advice.

shawnpci - February 4, 2011

Thanks for your question.

There is no “official” site that I’m aware of. Wholesale pricing is between the agent manufacturer(s) and their respective supply chain partners – usually hardware manufacturers. All need to be very careful in disclosing any pricing as violation of U.S. Antitrust laws could be at stake.

System distributors/installers are left to pass along what they’re quoted by the hardware manufacturers. There are some agent-only outlets that provide recycling services that can be alternate sources for agents. If you’d like a specific list, contact me at shawnpci.mullen@gmail.

3. Matt E - February 13, 2011

So what do you recommend as an alternative & sustainable chemical agent?

shawnpci - February 13, 2011

Thanks for your question. Sustainable can take on several different meanings (e.g. always available, or won’t come under environmental scrutiny, or will adapt to changes in the hazard over time, etc.).

Obviously, water could be considered a sustainable agent. And, for many applications, it is.
In the clean agent world, the manufacturer of a fluoroketone-based agent, asserts its sustainability.

Good fire protection would indicate that a thorough assessment of the fire protection goals of the hazard be conducted including long-term viability of whichever agents are being considered.

Ovidi - February 22, 2011

Do you believe that the manufacturer of that fluoroketone-based agent may be also affected by the shrtage of fluorspar-fluorine in the short or mid term?
I am a bit scared of specify any fluor based agent in case the problem of the FM200 extends to other agents.
Your thoughts?

shawnpci - February 23, 2011

Thanks for your question. At first blush, my initial thought is to say not directly.

However, I’ll be attending the upcoming FSSA Annual Meeting (February 25 – March 1).
The major manufacturers will be there. Will nose around a bit more to gain a better perspective.

Stay tuned and I’ll add what I learn to this thread.

4. Wally Siso - April 13, 2011

Is Nitrogen considered as clean agent if yes why not used as a substitute to Halon

shawnpci - April 13, 2011

Thanks for a great question. Nitrogen is considered a clean agent and is addressed in NFPA 2001. Several manufacturers provide nitrogen fire suppress systems. Primary means of extinguishment is lowering available oxygen to a point where flame can’t sustain itself. I’ve not had direct experience with an all-nitrogen inert system, but others who have may wish to comment.

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