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Drying out a long-term problem in deluge testing

It may come as a surprise that the most efficient deluge testing technology on the market uses air rather than water.

For commissioning and maintenance of deluge systems – or open sprinkler systems used for fire suppression – testing always presents a costly dilemma.

While it is vital to accurately test and maintain a fire deluge system, conventional wet testing can lead to significant cost increases due to the downtime and long-term collateral damage.

That is particularly the case in the offshore oil and gas industry, where deluge systems are designed to utilise sea water which has abrasive and corrosive impacts on infrastructure. The ingenuity of dry deluge testing – which uses low-pressure dry air to replicate the flow of water – will provide major benefits to the offshore industry.

According to Andrew Manning, Managing Director of Eftech International which introduced the Dry-Flo® deluge testing technology to Australian markets last year, the dry testing system is so accurate it allows flow anomalies to be detected immediately and with such precision that any potential issues can be identified and rectified as testing takes place.

The water-free testing system was successfully used in 2020 on Sydney’s M8 WestConnex tunnel project in which 678 deluge zones in the tunnel were tested, incorporating more than 10,000 individual sprinkler nozzles. The entire process took less than three months.

The innovative technology is predicted to have a huge impact on the oil and gas and broader energy market, where water-based deluge testing not only has an impact on the environment but requires extensive investigation to determine the precise location of flow issues and costs billions of dollars annually in corrosion-related maintenance.

The use of Dry-Flo® technology on the WestConnex project was not only an industry first, but the first time the technology had been used in Australia.

The testing was managed by Eftech International in partnership with Paradigm Flow Services Ltd – who developed the Dry-Flo® technology. Paradigm is an upstream oil and gas technology and services company based in the Netherlands.

Mr Manning said following the success of the WestConnex project, Eftech International had received a high level of interest in Dry-Flo® technology across the many markets in which it operates in Australia.

The WestConnex project has provided Eftech with a solid case study to offer Dry-Flo® technology to our existing customers in the upstream oil and gas sector.

“Through our partnership with Paradigm, we have been able to gain knowledge and expertise of this technology, ensuring Dry-Flo® can be delivered locally.

“Dry-Flo® technology complements other services provided by Eftech, including installation, commissioning and ongoing maintenance of critical wet fire systems, meaning we offer our clients a one-stop solution.”

Paradigm Director of Fire Services Daniel McCormick said the technology is intended for “cross-industry application” and inquiries were already being made from power generation plant operators where wet testing in critical plant zones is prohibited.

“The dry test solution applies to any fire suppression system where conventional test methods prove problematic and disruptive, either due to the nature of the protected area or process and where discharge of the suppression system will end in unacceptable damage or outage,” Mr McCormick said.

“Conventional offshore deluge testing inevitably involves frequent saltwater saturation of the asset and its various processing equipment. Dry-Flo® deluge testing significantly reduces the cost of corrosion-related maintenance and the potential for unplanned shutdowns due to water ingress into electrical systems.

“Offshore oil and gas operators, FPSO’s and fixed installations alike embrace dry deluge testing for significant long-term value awarded to risk reduction, integrity assurance, sustainability, asset life extension and mitigation of the general disruptions to operations created by traditional wet testing.

“We are seeing the technology applied across water deluge and foam suppression systems including low pressure water mist systems protecting internal areas of the installations.”

Mr McCormick said Paradigm had a 25,000-tonne offshore gas processing platform converting to Dry-Flo® testing specifically to capture the benefit to the local marine environment. He added that from an environmental perspective, the technology was actively supporting carbon reduction strategies and significant reductions in deluge effluent discharge and treatment.

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