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Kidde Supplies Fire Protection For ThrustSSC

ThrustSSC's cockpit
ThrustSSC's Cockpit. Image: Kidde International

The Kidde Group of fire protection companies, comprising Kidde Graviner, Kidde Fire Protection, Kidde Thorn and Kidde Dexaero, are providing the fire protection for ThrustSSC, Richard Noble's latest attempt at pushing the land-speed record even further.

Whenever high-powered engines and fuel are in close operating proximity it is essential to consider the safety aspects. Kidde were the obvious choice for the provision of a fire protection system. The group has in excess of 50 years experience protecting different methods of transport from the hazards of fire and supplied the protection system for Thrust 2 in 1983.

The fire protection system being supplied for ThrustSSC is unique. Fire and overheat sensors within the engines utilise the famous 'Firewire(TM)' linear temperature sensor, which has been used in almost every aircraft flying, including Concorde and the Boeing 747.

The Firewire is mounted on special rails around both engines and also in the rear wheel well area. Signals from these three sensing systems and also from a unique crash switch mounted in the nose cone, are taken to a central unit in the small electronic bay. Here, a special card using a unique programmable logic control chip, in addition to the special digital Firewire sensing circuit, programmed specifically for the ThrustSSC requirement, determines the automatic sequence of suppression system firing should any event be registered.

When travelling at such high speeds, concentration on the total vehicle performance is critical, therefore the driver wants as many of the decisions as to what needs to be done with any incident, to be undertaken automatically - leaving him to take responsibility for the key actions only.

Fire suppression is provided using FM200(TM) a new gaseous agent designed specifically to be environmentally acceptable as well as effective in fire suppression The use of a gaseous agent for fire suppression is preferred over powders or foams, because they are faster in getting effective extinguishing concentrations into all the nooks and crannies of an engine. In the past the most common agent used was Halon 1301, but having a high Ozone Depletion Potential, this has now been banned from production in the west FM-200(TM) is an HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) with the chemical name heptafluoropropane. Importantly, it has zero ODP. It is also non-toxic in fire extinguishing concentrations and is one of the most effective in space/weight terms of the new gaseous agents. It has already become the leading gaseous replacement agent in the world for industrial use, but ThrustSSC represents the first use on any vehicle. Recent research has shown that the agent performs well when used in high air flow engines. The aviation industry may well look at ThrustSSC as a useful test lead for their own halon replacement programmes.

Within the cockpit area, it is proposed that the driver is protected by a system similar to those used in high performance rally cars. The system currently in use on Citroen rally cars, uses fast optical flame detectors and, in the event of a fire within the cockpit, the suppression system is automatically triggered. The outputs of the optical detectors are logically connected to tumble, crash or engine heat sensors such that it is only in the event of a defined incident that the system becomes automatic.

FM-200 is a trademark of Great Lakes Chemical Corp.
Firewire is a trademark of Kidde Graviner Ltd.

Supplied by:

Julia Woodsford
Opcyon Marketing

Tel: +44 (0)1932 820497
Fax: +44 (0)1932 857035

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