Low burden, adsorbent and heat absorbing structures for respiratory protection in building fires

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The primary function of commercial fire escape masks (FEMs), fitted with granulated activated carbon (AC) packed bed filters, is to provide at least 15 minutes of respiratory protection by removing toxic gases and particulates from surrounding air in building fires. In this work, the extended functionality of heat entrapment and its impact on inhalation temperature by using shape-stable phase change material whilst maintaining low pressure drop is reported for the first time. The proposed filter contained an array of monoliths where each monolith consisted of three functional sections, namely the pre-cooler, AC adsorbent section and post-cooler. The pre- and post- coolers consisted of polyethylene glycol 4000/triallyl isocyanurate and were intended to absorb environmental and process heats from the inhaled atmosphere. Numerical models were developed to describe the species and energy transport within the monolith filters and were compared against packed bed filters. The representative challenge conditions were set at an inhalation rate of 50 L min-1, trace amount of butane (1000 ppm) and inlet air temperature of 80 oC. The best performing filter contained nine monoliths each with density of 734 channels per square inch, and could protect the user from excessive inhalation temperatures for 22 min and butane breakthrough for approximately 14 min whilst maintaining low pressure drop of 27.4 Pa. In comparison to an equivalent mass packed bed, the monolith provided additional high temperature protection, extended butane breakthrough time by a maximum of 84% and reduced pressure drop by 25%. This work demonstrates promising opportunities to move the FEM industry forward and the possibility for the technology to be used in general industrial respirators in applications such as agriculture, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
Early online date25 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Nov 2020

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