FM200 vs Novec 1230

FM200 v Novec 1230

With the massive rise in the price of FM200 (click here for article) we thought it would be useful to compare it to the alternative, Novec 1230.

FM200 and Novec 1230 are very similar in many peoples opinions as both are clean chemical agents, stored as liquids and can have issues if discharged into very high temperature fires, but that’s where the similarities end. We are not trying to dismiss the similarities as these are very important and allow during the design process to design a Novec 1230 system very similar to an FM200 one. But there are a number of important differences that need to be discussed.

FM200 v Novec 1230 – Quantity of Agent

FM200 uses a concentration level of between 6% and 9% whereas Novec 1230 uses between 4% and 6%, but when we calculate the amount to be used it looks like Novec 1230 uses more agent. This is not quite correct as Novec 1230 is much heavier than FM200 (Specific Gravity/Density 1.6 v 1.46) and therefore the actual quantity in another measurement such as Litres may be the same or less. Also because of the difference in weight it is much more difficult to get Novec 1230 out of the cylinder and therefore during the design process this can mean more cylinders (either a bigger cylinder or additional) and bigger pipework (usually just up by one size if at all).

Therefore you must be very careful especially when upgrading systems from FM200 to Novec 1230 to ensure the cylinder quantities, cylinder sizes and pipework size will work for Novec 1230. Where you are designing a Novec 1230 from scratch then it won’t make any difference unless you are comparing them.

FM200 v Novec 1230 – Safety Level

What do we mean by Safety Level?

When a Fire Suppression System is designed the actual concentration must be checked to ensure that it is safe for people or else safety devices such as lock offs etc must be fitted and the system must be isolated before entering the room or hazard. At the design stage this should be checked and usually we won’t install a system that is not safe for people, but rooms could be altered by the user. When a service is carried out this should be checked to ensure the room has not decreased in size (increased the level of concentration of agent) or increased in size (decreased the concentration of agent). Too little agent and the fire will not be put out and too much agent will make it dangerous for people to be in the room during a discharge.

Novec 1230 has a safety margin of between 67%-150% whereas FM200 has a safety margin of just 3%-29%. This makes a decrease in room size without changes in agent quantity much safer for people where we use Novec 1230.

FM200 v Novec 1230 – Environment

With people more aware than ever the environmental impact of the products we use, this has become more important in peoples decision making.

When production  ceased of Halon 1301 in 1992, FM200 was seen as a much more environmentally safer product and it was and still is. Halon 1301 was an Ozone Depleting Gas FM200 wasn’t. Halon stayed in the atmosphere for 65 years, FM200 just 33 years and finally the Global Warming Potential of Halon 1301 was 6900, FM200 was nearly half that at 3500. Ultimately FM200 was much more environmentally friendly than Halon 1301.

Novec 1230 takes those numbers to a whole new level, see below.

Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) Atmospheric Lifetime (years) Global Warming Potential (GWP)
Halon 1301 12 65 6900
FM200 0 33 3500
Novec 1230 0 0.014 1

FM200 v Novec 1230 – Conclusion

In conclusion Novec 1230 prior to 1st January 2018 was the most expensive of the agents we use for Fire Suppression System, but with the massive increase in price of FM200 (due to an EU reduction of 36%) has meant Novec 1230 is now the only real alternative to Inert Gas. Although the design of a new Novec 1230 system will be similar to a FM200 system an upgrade will not and particular care should be taken when carrying this out.

Should you require any information or advice on Novec 1230 and FM200 Systems please see following file: