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SA Instrumentation & Control Buyers' Guide

Technews Industry Guide - IIoT 2018

Technews Industry Guide - Maintenance, Reliability & Asset Optimisation


Pyrogen system ideal for fire protection in cabinet systems
September 2018, Electrical Power & Protection

Since its establishment in 1999, one of Alien Systems & Technologies’ products has been the Pyrogen Aerosol Fire Extinguishing System. Pyrogen is the product of choice for in-cabinet electrical equipment protection in South African mines, where it is used underground as well as on the surface. The most common applications include substations containing switchgear, MCCs, VSDs and UPS equipment.

Method of operation

Pyrogen is the ideal choice for in-cabinet systems. It is essentially a non-pressurised canister that contains a potent fire extinguishing compound that consists primarily of potassium. The extinguishing compound exits the canister through an endothermic heat absorbing material, leading to a cool release within the protected area. Its fire extinguishing action is achieved by chemically altering the flame while rapidly cooling the affected area through heat absorption. Potassium, binds with the flame chain carriers, O, H and OH to form kO, kH and kOH: thus, through simple chemistry, no more fire.

The system offers dual actuating mechanisms through both thermocord and electrical activation supplied as standard. The thermocord operating mechanism is better than thermal spot detection as it offers uniform sensitivity across the surface of the interior of the cabinet, which improves response time for a stable and reliable fire protection system. Unlike linear heat sensing cable, Thermocord does not require an electrical supply. Importantly, if all other mechanisms fail the Pyrogen system will self-operate when the temperature of the canister reaches 500C.

The compound offers a superior means of fire extinguishing that does not break down into hazardous or corrosive by-products. Unlike some other systems, it does not use a pressurised cylinder, therefore there is no loss of pressure through valves or heat sensitive tubes. There are shortcomings to using a cylinder of extinguishing agent dispensed via a heat sensitive tube woven through the switchgear, for example. What if there are fires in two sections of the switchgear? The tube would sense one of the fires first. It would then rupture because of the heat and then release its extinguishing agent. Now what about the second fire? No extinguishing agent would be delivered there. In a Pyrogen system, each compartment receives its own Pyrogen canister providing 100% cover. Should a fire occur in one section of the electrical cabinet, protection is maintained elsewhere. In addition, as a cost saving post fire, one simply replaces the discharged canister. All the others remain in place.

Benefits of the Pyrogen system

A problem that is emerging in the market is the use of pressurised liquid fire extinguishing agents that claim to be ‘green’ solutions. What is not said, is that such systems often contain ketones and solvents which attack the plastics commonly found in cable insulation. Once exposed, such insulators become brittle and crack, ultimately leading to costly cable replacement. Hence a system that is meant to protect infrastructure, in the end damages it, thus leading to expensive repairs and downtime. Pyrogen does not cause such problems.

Key to the Pyrogen system is that each canister can be monitored for activation by means of a temperature switch. Hence fire alarm signalling and back tripping functions come as standard. Heavy duty contacts are provided to enable back tripping functions.

The cold war between the USA and USSR led to a proliferation of inter-continental ballistic missiles. The Soviets used Pyrogen in an effort to reduce the heat signature of their ICBMs to make them more difficult to detect. AST identified this military application and developed it into a system for civilian use. This system has saved many African businesses from extensive losses due to the ravages of fire. This includes fires in underground MCC equipment in the gold mining industry, fires on dredgers off the South African coastline, fires in E-houses on stackers and reclaiming machines, fires in draglines and fires in switchgear. Pyrogen even saved someone’s life when a flash occurred in a substation while they were present.

Easy to install and maintain and with a proven track record, Pyrogen is the ideal solution to protect all electrical type cabinets in mining, production and virtually all equipment applications including 19” server cabinets. (

For more information contact Alien Systems & Technologies, +27 11 949 1157,,

Supplied By: Alien Systems & Technologies
Tel: +27 11 949 1157
Fax: 086 718 3430
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