New Standards for Fire-Resistant Fluids


HOUSTON — Manufacturers of fire-resistant industrial fluids have a year and a month to receive Factory Mutual Research Corp. approval of their products, under Factory Mutuals new Standard 6930 for flammability classification of industrial fluids.

In the past, the standard for flammability classification of these fluids was based on two tests from the 1950s, Gerhard Daday of Factory Mutual Research said. The standard had problems. Some fluids passed or failed seemingly randomly. That lack of consistency led to changes.

In the new tests, Daday told last weeks meeting of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers here, we have much better temperature control of the fluids.

FMs new Standard 6930, issued in January 2002, has an effective date of July 1, 2003. All industrial fluids used for lubrication, hydraulic power transmission, turbine governor control, transformer insulation and cooling, submitted for FM approval, must meet the new standard by that date.

How important is Factory Mutual approval? Very, said an Akzo Nobel representative listening to Daday. Fluid manufacturers all seek FM approval.

An original equipment manufacturer agreed. End users look for Factory Mutual approvals on fire-resistant fluids.

Under the new standards, fluids are tested and then classified in three groups based on a complex formula called the spray flammability parameter. Group 0 fluids are nonflammable. Group 1 fluids are usually unable to stabilize a spray flame. Group 2 fluids are less flammable than mineral oils, but may stabilize a spray flame under certain conditions. Water-based fluids are generally Group 0, while phosphate esters may be Group 2.

To win FM approval, fluid manufacturers must submit to an initial in-house facilities and procedures audit, inspection of their quality control program, Factory Mutual witnessing the production of fluid test samples, and examination and tests on the witnessed samples to determine flammability. In addition, they are subject to unannounced follow-up facilities and procedures audits at least annually.

FM has developed new Fire Products Collector and Critical Heat Flux test apparatus for Standard 6930. In addition, it conducts a separation resistance evaluation of industrial fluids that are emulsions. We are accepting applications now, Daday announced.

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