Self-firefighting system could stop vehicle fires

Right: (Photo: Pixabay) Left: Eyad Al-Awartani (left) and Khalil Al-Selawi. (Photo: Handout from Eyad Al-Awartani)
AMMAN- — Vehicle fires cause destruction and death throughout the world. An invention by a Jordanian mechanical engineer could help prevent fires in cars. اضافة اعلان

Eyad Al-Awartani, a Jordanian mechanical engineer, worked with the aid of his colleague Khalil Al-Selawi to design a vehicle self-firefighting system.

The Al-Balqa Applied University graduate, who worked on the system as part of his graduation project, told Jordan News in a phone interview that stopping fires depends on removing two of the elements in the “fire triangle” that cause combustion: fuel, heat, and oxygen.  

One of the main components of the system is FM200 gas, which is known to be effective at stopping fire by removing the heat element from the fire triangle.

“I tried my best to find a gas that is suitable for humans and the environment and that stops any complication. It is very safe,” Awartani told Jordan News. 

The system also consists of a motorized valve that is electrically activated and makes use of a copper (known to be durable and reliable) tube and joints. The system also contains an MQ smoke sensor and an Arduino microcontroller board which is responsible for the whole system. 

The system uses a smoke sensor to detect carbon monoxide smoke, which is more stable than carbon dioxide. If a fire starts in the passenger cabin of the car, the sensor quickly detects the thickness of the smoke and/or different flammable gases. The sensor then sends a signal to the Arduino microcontroller, which then sends two signals. The first triggers the motorized valve to release the FM200 gas. The second signal cuts off electricity to the converter and the car’s high-voltage parts, a crucial step to prevent the fire from reigniting. 

“Most vehicle fires that happen in Jordan reignite within 15 minutes of being extinguished because the electrical current isn’t stopped,” Al-Awartani explained.

The FM200 gas then moves through the motorized valve to snuff out the fire.

According to Al-Awartani, the fire system design, which won third place at a nationwide competition organized by the Jordan Engineers Association, is more convenient than a conventional fire extinguishing system for many reasons including that it cuts off the source of electric fires, i.e. electricity.

Statistics for vehicle fires in Jordan could not be found, which makes it challenging to gauge the extent of the problem. But vehicle fires are a problem around the world. A 2018 report from The Center of Fire Statistics of the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services found that 13.6 percent of all fires reported from 57 countries were vehicle fires.

Jordanian groups have previously made efforts to combat car fires. During the summer of 2020, after a spike in vehicle fires due to hot weather and other elements, the Jordanian traffic department started a social media campaign encouraging drivers to obtain fire extinguishers. The campaign used the slogan “What’s more expensive? ... Your life ... your family ... your car ... or a fire extinguisher?”

Al-Awartani recalled a specific accident in Amman where a car caught fire due to electrical contact, which could have been stopped by the system he co-designed. He added that the design has to be incorporated into the car during manufacturing.

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