Industrial Fire Journal - Fire & Rescue - Hemming Group Ltd
Turbine robot sees action
Published:  23 May, 2017

The successful deployment of a mobile fire extinguishing turbine prompts the delivery of a second unit to the largest site in the Bavarian chemical triangle.

Wacker Chemie has ordered a second Magirus Aircore TAF 35 turbine for its plant in Burghausen, Germany, 110km east of Munich on the Austrian border, where 10,000 employees are based and where innovative fire extinguishing technology is often tested for potential use at other sites.

Around 3,000 products are manufactured at the 2km2 site from raw materials comprising silicon, methanol, ethyline, acetic acid and rock salt.

The TAF 35 has been built by the Italian engineering firm Emi Controls in partnership with the German fire-fighting  manufacturer Magirus. Similar units have been supplied to Audi in Germany and Mexico, Miro refinery in Germany, Ilva Steel in Italy, Evonik in Germany and Italy as well as a number of municipal brigades in South Korea, Italy, China and Turkey.

The Aircore units at Wacker are mounted on a crawler that can be quickly transported to any part of the site on a swap-body vehicle. Their especially-patented nozzle technology can spray up to 1,500 liters of water or foam per minute in a fine mist, which has the side effect of shielding the machines for heat.

The turbines have a throw distance of up to 80m and have a variable height position of up to 4m. The turbine section is rotatable by 360 degrees, can be raised by 50 degrees and lowered by 20 degrees. In addition, a mounting on the lift arm enables the crawler to overcome ledges or pipelines during use.

The first turbine was commissioned in December 2015; since the end of last year both are being used to protect open sections on the pipeline as well as to extinguish incipient fires.

The Aircore last saw action during an incident in summer last year when a fire developed in the chemical production site following a leak of a corrosive, flammable liquid that combusted immediately. Initial extinguishing attempts, described as only ‘moderately successful‘, were followed by the deployment of the turbine, which extinguished the fire in minutes. Vincenzo Bucci, head of technology for Wacker‘s fire department in Burghausen, takes up the story: "We used the remote control to direct the Aircore TAF35 safely to the fire, raise the turbine with the lift arm and – thanks to the built-in camera system – directly target the source of the fire, without endangering any firefighters.

"Water or foam was selectively and efficiently used for direct fire fighting. No comparable fire truck on the market can do this." Bucci added that he was particularly impressed by the low noise level of the turbine, which meant that even when at its loudest, it still allowed communications between the responders.

The potential further deployment of the same technology at other Wacker Chemie locations in Germany and abroad is currently under consideration: "Burghausen is our biggest plant; this is where we test techniques and devices like the Aircore for later use at other production sites," says Bucci.