Alco Valves Group Ltd, part of the international engineering firm Graco, have enhanced its testing capabilities with the official opening of their valve fire testing facility. The introduction of the new facility demonstrates Alco’s dedication to research and development in order to configure solutions for its customers’ diverse requirements where performance and safety are critical.
Alco has recycled an abandoned shipping container into a safe and fully functional fire test bay. With health and safety at the forefront of the way the Alco Group operate, superior features have been designed into the facility to ensure the highest safety standards are met. All controls are located in the main factory building with the propane fuelled fire remotely generated in a reinforced shipping container. The intelligent burner system, supplied by Burner & Flame Technology LTD, can reach temperatures in excess of 1000°C with optimum control and safety. Paired together with a high flow pressure system supplied by High Pressure Equipment Company (HiP), also a Graco company, the system effortlessly provides the conditions required to evaluate valve performance when subjected to a fire. The facility also contains a custom-built extinguishing system, data acquisition and a camera system to monitor every stage of the testing from a safe distance.
Typically, a fire test sequence consists of a thirty-minute burn period followed by a force cool and a post-burn performance test. This is to replicate an emergency in service, where in the event of a fire the extinguishing procedure should be completed within half an hour. Within that time frame, the valve performance must retain a safe level of containment in order not to allow the process media to fuel the fire further. The new test facility provides an advanced method to verify the fire-safe design features of Alco valves products when exposed to defined fire test conditions as described in international standards such as BS EN ISO 10497, API 607 and API 6FA.