Low Oxygen Fire Systems Debated

Several vendors at this week’s CEBIT trade show in Germany are demonstrating data center fire prevention products based on “oxygen deprivation” strategies that starve the server room of oxygen. Two German companies, Wagner Alarm and Security Systems GmbH and N2telligence, have developed oxygen deprivation products, which create a sever room environment similar to high-altitude conditions, with just enough air for humans and not enough for fires to spread. Here’s a aummary of Wagner’s technology from Jeremy Kirk at PC World:

Air is composed of about 21 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen and 1 percent of other gases. … Wood stops burning when the oxygen content falls to 17 percent and plastic cables between 16 to 17 percent, said Frank Eickhorn, product manager for fire detection at Wagner Alarm and Security Systems GmbH in Hanover, Germany. Wagner makes electric compressors that use a special membrane to remove some of the oxygen from the outside air, a system the company calls OxyReduct. The excess oxygen is exhausted, and the remaining nitrogen-rich air is pumped inside the data center. At 15 percent oxygen, it’s safe for humans to enter. … (Eickhorn) demonstrated with a lighter inside a sealed atrium Wagner has on display at Cebit. It won’t light.

See additional discussion at ComputerWorld and Slashdot.

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About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.