See through the smokescreen

Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have invented a device that will allow the accurate study of smoke in building fires.

CSIRO’s High Temperature Smoke Meter is said to measure the optical density of smoke, enabling researchers to more accurately predict when people would have trouble finding escape routes within a burning building.

‘The High Temperature Smoke Meter fills a critical gap in data collection by measuring the smoke in particular regions of a fire even though the temperatures and radiant levels would destroy conventional meters,’ said Justin Leonard of CSIRO’s Fire Science & Technology Laboratory (FSTL).

The High Temperature Smoke Meter is an optical beam type meter using an ultra bright monochromatic focused light emitting diode (LED).

The output of the LED is monitored so that the meter is stable even if power supply and temperature vary within allowable limits. The meters are cooled by low-pressure air and come with their own power supply.

The optical smoke extinction level (how far light can travel through smoke) is calculated as the relative ratio between two voltages (0-10 V DC) returned by the meter.

A wide range of path lengths can be measured from 0.1 m to over 2 m depending on the application.

When correctly installed the High Temperature Smoke Meters will remain undamaged through flashover (flame).

The High Temperature Smoke Meters have only just been made market-ready and CSIRO is now keen to hear from companies interested in the commercial manufacture and distribution of the High Temperature Smoke Meter.

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