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Old 01-10-2021, 01:07 PM
jjb jjb is offline
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: CO
Posts: 58
Default Questions On Element Fire Extinguisher

The small form factor for the Element fire extinguisher no doubt makes it attractive compared to a traditional Halon bottle for those of us builders looking at fire extinguishers.

While the information that you would be enveloped in a cloud for almost a minute is enough to rule it out for me, did the U.S. Rep for Element provide any information on the following questions that arise after reviewing the Element website?

1. The website says it cannot be shipped by air because it is unsafe. Presumably this applies to even shipping a single item. Is this any different than carrying it in an aircraft for fire protection?

2. The website says the discharge should not be toward a person’s face. Is this any different than using it in a closed cockpit where your face would be in the “cloud” for almost a minute?

3. The website FAQ #4 contains a pdf file explaining how it works. It states that the Element discharges potassium nitrate powder (a common agricultural fertilizer, corrosive at least on my steel fertilizer spreaders) into the atmosphere, where it combines with oxygen to form KOH. KOH is commonly called lye, and while safe for human consumption in small concentrations, is also the main constituent in drain cleaner. Does the “cloud” a pilot would be breathing contain some gaseous concentration of what is essentially drain cleaner? I would suspect the explanation in the pdf is overly simplified and this may be of no concern or a wrong conclusion on my part, but would like some clarification before breathing in the “cloud”.

4. The website FAQ #4 pdf document states that after discharge 3-4 micron solid particles of potassium that has reacted with oxygen (KOH, i.e. lye?) are deposited on the ground “in no appreciable amounts”, that are not visible to the human eye. 3-4 microns is about the same size as hair spray, bigger than tobacco smoke and bigger than paint particles, according to a cursory internet search. While it may be harmless on the ground, is there any information on what effect these particles of whatever they are have over the long term after they have permeated the nooks and crannies of the interior of an RV?

I agree that all of this is the least of your problems if you actually have an in-flight fire. And my questions may not be valid based on my lack of understanding of the product.

But given the proven halon fire extinguisher alternative available, albeit somewhat larger in size and cost, without some more information these seem more suitable to terrestrial uses, at least to me.
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