As a business owner, having a reliable fire suppression system in place is one of the best ways to protect every part of your company, including your equipment, inventory, and employees. But with so many options for systems on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is the right fit for you. When it comes to class A, B, and C fires, clean agent fire suppression systems can be highly effective at eliminating a fire in its inception phase before it has the chance to grow, spread, and cause damage.
This article will discuss two of the main clean agent fire suppression agents: FM-200™ and 3M Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid. We’ll cover the basics of each and then answer the question “What is the difference between FM-200™ and 3M Novec 1230 fluid?” so you can better understand which is best for you.
How Does FM-200™ Work?
FM-200™ is a clean agent fire suppressant that uses the chemical hydrofluorocarbon, a colorless, liquid gas, to suppress fires. FM-200™ works by disrupting what is known as the fire triangle (heat, oxygen, and a fuel source). Essentially, it removes the presence of heat, which interferes with the fire’s ability to grow.
What is the 3M Novec 1230 Fluid?
3M Novec 1230 fluid is an FM-200™ alternative and is one of the leading clean agent fire suppression agents. It works similarly to FM-200™ in that it removes heat from the fire to rapidly suppress it. But what is 3M Novec 1230 fluid made of? Produced by 3M™, the fluid uses a fluoroketone chemical compound that’s also called CF3CF2C(O)CF(CF3)2. The compound is stored as a liquid, but it discharges as a gas once the fire suppression system is activated.
FM-200™ vs. 3M Novec 1230 Fluid
Both agents sound similar on paper. They’re both clean agents, which means they are safe for use on sensitive equipment and don’t leave behind a residue, and use chemical agents to remove the presence of heat from a fire, thereby suppressing it. But that’s really where the similarities stop. Now let’s explore the differences between the two suppression agents.
Both FM-200™ and 3M Novec 1230 fluid have a low risk of toxicity and are considered safe for use in populated areas, like a factory floor, warehouse, archives or office building. And, because they’re not carbon dioxide or inert gas agents, both FM-200™ and 3M Novec 1230 fluid do not come with any danger of suffocation. This means you can have peace of mind with whichever agent you ultimately choose. While they are similar in many respects, these suppression agents do have their differences.
One of the disadvantages of FM-200™ is that it does come with slightly more risk of injury or health complication… especially if it’s handled improperly. If skin comes in contact with the product while it’s discharging (as it’s released as a gas) it can cause frostbite. Additionally, inhaling quantities of it in high concentrations may cause headaches, dizziness, loss of coordination, confusion, and potentially loss of consciousness. With all that said, these risk factors are low when following the manufacturers’ design concentration recommendations.
How does 3M Novec 1230 fluid compare? The primary concern with the fluid is the risk of mild eye irritation if exposed to high concentrations of the product over an extended period of time.
Those interested in the environmental impact of using clean agent fire suppression agents can rest assured, knowing that both fire protection substances have zero ozone depletion potential (ODP).
However, they do differ when it comes to their global warming potential (GWP), or the amount of emitted greenhouse gas that is estimated to contribute to global warming each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 3M Novec 1230 fluid has a GWP of 1 while FM-200™ has a GWP of 3350. Thus, 3M Novec 1230 fluid is the more environmentally-friendly choice.
When it comes to storage, we see one of the 3M Novec 1230 fluid disadvantages. While both chemical agents are stored in cylinders in liquid form, the 3M Novec 1230 fluid tends to require more product to protect your property. So, you may need to install more cylinders or larger cylinders than you would FM-200™. If storage is a concern, then FM-200™ might be the right option for you.
While both systems are fairly similar in price, FM-200™ tends to be a slightly more cost-effective option because it’s more readily available and less product is needed. In general, fire suppression systems can range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending upon many factors, including the size of the system and the number of cylinders needed.
No matter which fire suppression system you choose, we can find you the right solution to meet your unique requirements. Our fire suppression systems are designed to keep your business, your employees, and your equipment safe by automatically detecting and suppressing fires. Our engineering team is ready to design a fire suppression system that is ideal for your application.