The Ventura Aerospace Fire Suppression System differs from existing aircraft fire suppression systems in many ways. Existing systems that are currently installed on aircraft are Halon-based solutions that rely on a total flood of a cargo compartment. In theory this sounds like a good idea. The problem is that in the real world a number of things get in the way of actually suppressing a fire.
Halon is extremely good at suppressing and extinguishing Class A, B and C fires. Halon when properly applied to a fire is one of the most effective extinguishing agents on the market. The challenge with Halon is in how it is applied to a fire, particularly those fires in the cargo compartments of aircraft. Most cargo compartments utilize a combination of ULD, containers or pallets, for loading cargo in the aircraft. While nozzles are located throughout the cargo compartments to evenly discharge the agent into the cargo compartment, sealed boxes, crates and ULDs will not receive sufficient amounts of Halon to suppress the fire. If the suppressing agent cannot get to the fire it cannot work. Halon also does not work at all on Class D fires.
The challenge with suppressing a fire inside a ULD located inside a cargo compartment can be solved in two ways. The first- locate the fire suppression system inside the ULD- this has distinct disadvantages. The disadvantages with container based solutions is one of maintenance. Containers are subject to significant abuse. Damage to containers occurs regularly. The training requirements for inspection and and repair to maintain airwotrhiness of the the suppression systems in the containers is significant. Additionally containers are spread around the world. Control of the containers cannot be maintained full time. Containers are even shared between airlines or stolen outright. Then there are the vast numbers of containers to be modified across multiple fleets. In container solutions can be effective at suppressing a fire but the total life cycle costs associated with these types of solutions is considerably higher than our aircraft based solutions.
The most cost effective and the one that has the least impact to operations is an aircraft based solution. The Ventura Aerospace Fire Suppression System can inject the suppression agent into the ULD. Here is a video of a live fire test conducted on Lithium batteries that simulates the injection of foam into a container. A full-scale test of this setup was conducted inside an AMJ container with successful suppression of the fire for over four hours.
In this video, smoke is initially seen coming from the box. Once the fire flashes over the amount of smoke is reduced significantly. The fire is burning now at a much more stoichiometric rate. The fire is not resulting in as much Carbon or soot, rather it is being converted into CO and CO2 gas.
The Cargo Foam suppresses this fire in two ways. First, Cargo Foam being an argon-generated foam is completely inert. Argon does not react chemically like other gases such as Nitrogen or CO2. This inerting prevents the cardboard packaging from continuing to burn by displacing oxygen completely. This is not a simple reduction of oxygen concentration but a complete displacement. Secondly, the Cargo Foam has a cooling affect on the batteries. By cooling the batteries that are already burning and those that have not ignited, the fire propagation rate is reduced and eventually stopped. The Ventura Aerospace fire suppression system is not only capable of suppressing the FAA standard cardboard and paper fire but more importantly a real fire consisting of electronic devices, particularly those with Lithium Ion batteries.