Fire at waste and recycling sites is a huge problem for the industry, and the most common cause is spontaneous combustion. But site operators do not know what is happening within their stockpiles and where the danger areas are.
For the past 12 months, a research and development project to solve the problem, led by inventor Dr Eric Crouch, has been underway at a major biomass recycling site.
He said: “Because spontaneous combustion happens randomly within the stockpile, by the time you detect smoke externally, it is often already too late. Probes simply cannot provide enough detail and are difficult to insert deep into the piles.”
His PreventIt low-cost solution consists of a disposable sensor cable which is laid across material at various stages as the pile grows in height. The sensors in the cable monitor temperatures within the stockpile and realtime information is then transmitted wirelessly from the monitoring unit to a PC.
When any area of the pile approaches dangerous temperatures, an alarm activates so operators know exactly when to rotate or move stock to prevent the risk of fire.
“With PreventIt, they have the information they need to respond before a fire starts,” said Crouch.