All Terrain Field / Forest Fire Fighting Vehicle: AT4FV
THE FIRE KNIGHT
The long hot summer days on the Northern Hemisphere cause wildfires in many regions. Battling wildfires has got to be one of the toughest jobs.. As many vehicles, airplanes and manpower are needed, the traditional way of fighting, controlling and freezing forest fire is considered to be very expensive and also time consuming. These actions are combined with supply of heavy equipment efforts in different forest regions. Such as all-terrain vehicles; tracked or wheeled, fire rescue trucks; water tenders, wild land fire engines, fire pumps; foam pumps portable low- pressure pumps, portable pumps .etc.
What the World needed is a much more effective tool to strike any fire fighting action. Fire prevention measures have been made efficiently by improved meteorological prediction and risk assessment. However when the fire starts the effective field studies are essential.
Rapid changes in the world climate and distinct increases in the green house effects cause serious water shortages also and strongly affect the forest fire fighting theories and prevention methods all around the world. New generation forest fire fighting possibilities with the free sustainable material will be one of the vital contributions for the greenest world. As this is the most alarming problem of all nations, without discrimination, this well-thought out fire fighting vehicle is dedicated to all nation’s fire fighting heroes on the world.
The more effective fire protection measures seem to lead to an accumulation of fuel in the forests. The policy of rapid initial attack is very effective, but does not seem to be adapted to large conflagration areas. Parallel to these phenomena the biodiversity of the world ecosystems is rapidly decreasing. The traditional mosaic-shaped fields and forests, rich in edge-effects, provide niches for rare and endangered flora and fauna. The World forests are characterized by complexity and fragility. Their management with the objectives of protection, production and biodiversity necessitates the mastering of especially adapted techniques. The aim of fire prevention is to define the different vulnerable zones of the field forest corresponding to soil characteristics, vegetation and relief. In addition to this, different research projects funded by the international contracts showed that scientific cooperation is considered as essential.
1. Why sandblasting is more effective on field and forest than other traditional methods?
Most forest fires result from human carelessness or deliberate arson. Fewer fires are started by lightning. Weather conditions influence the susceptibility of an area to fire; such factors as temperature, humidity, and rainfall determine the rate and extent to which flammable material dries and, therefore, the combustibility of the forest. Wind movement tends to accelerate drying and to increase the severity of fires by speeding up combustion.
There are three main climatic elements which affect the behavior of fire:
The most effective way of extinguishing and controlling the fire is to decrease the environment temperature and oxygen concentration while simultaneously increasing the percentage of relative humidity. It is seen that the most effective method of fire fighting and preventing is isolating the flaming region from air.
A combination of climate change and poor resource management is leading to water shortages. Therefore using water as the raw material in fire fighting is hard to sustain and causes a significant threat for environment. The transportation of water to the fire zone is also a major problem. Tankers and helicopters are used for transportation which is time consuming means for fighting fire. On the other hand soil is an already existent and the most sustainable material on the Earth which is also permanently available for deploying and processing. Assurance and transportation of the material is also no longer in concern as it can be provided from the zone.
Amphibious planes and helicopters are used for conveyance of water frequently if the water source is close to the fire zone (especially from lakes and seas.) However when the sea water is used, at the post fire period, the culture of trees has been hindered as the sea water contains high concentration of salt consisting of chloride. At the fire zone a Carbon layer settles down on the flaming parts. Sand mixing with the carbon layer precipitates the formation of peat soil layer which brings long-lasting advantages for sustainability and enrichment of vegetation.
In spite of the fact that water usage decreases the percentage of the relative humidity at the area, at long-ranged blasting of water, vaporization takes place at a percentage of 46% and the extinguishing effect passes off. In addition to this, if the fire fighting action moves against the wind, the compulsion of water decreases much more than that of the sand particles.
Ground fires, once established, are difficult to extinguish. When the humus layer is not very deep, a ground fire may be extinguished with water or sand. Most ground fires, however, are controlled by digging trenches around the burning area and allowing the fire to burn it out. Surface fires are limited by clearing the surrounding area of low vegetation and litter, or digging emergency furrows to confine the area. Crown fires are difficult to extinguish. They may be allowed to burn themselves out, they may be halted by streams, or they may be limited by backfired areas. Backfiring consists of carefully controlled burning of a strip of forest on the leeward side of the blaze, so that when the fire reaches the burned area it can go no farther.
Sand blasting method brings a new generic approach to the fire fighting system: blasting the fire. Partitioning the fire allows soil to contact with air and cool down faster. Chip removal technique is used at the flaming regions. High-pressurized sand particles batter the region and peel off the blasted parts on the trees and plants. The particles cover completely the flaming region, breaking contact with the fresh air. Moreover, the dust cloud created by sand blasting decreases the saturation of oxygen in the local atmosphere. Therefore, sand layer is an effective isolator for the areas died down. As a result of this, the system serves the preparation of fire breaks without cutting the trees and scarcely damaging the existing flora fauna.
2. Brief description of the sections and vehicle qualifications:
AT4FV, a new generation fire fighting vehicle for future, is specialized in large field fires such as wildfires and forest fires. The AT4FV, namely “The Fire Knight”, is a 6x6 electrical powered hybrid combat vehicle which close fights by rapid blasting of high-pressurized bits (sand particles) across the fire zone.
The system principally deploys dry soil from the area, then eliminates fast and finely granulates up to 5 mm diameter sand particles which are blasted to the active fire area. The blasting range is around 40 to 120 meters depends on the wind directions and other environmental disturbances.
The truck can be explained in 5 sections: command centre, main power supply unit , sand processing dept, steering system and blasting division.
The command center, cockpit part at the front of vehicle, is 5 staffs accommodated. The dashboard is fully equipped with latest technology devices as a wide-ranged camera chain, a PC and GPS etc. Behind the command center there exists the power supply center consisting of a diesel generator and a large fuel tank. At the sand processing section, a vacuum branch, an air-cooled 6-cylinder naturally aspirated in-line compressor and a 10m3 sand tank exist. The steering system is consisting of 6 independent electric motor mounted on each wheel and batteries. In addition to these sections, there is a blasting section which is composed of 3 collateral sand sprays located on 2 sides of the vehicle and a main long range sand spray located at the top of sand tank.
The Fire Knight stretches the principle of staff safety. The reflective surfaces and fire resistant materials selected for the production of the vehicle emphasize the importance of sensitivity on safety. In addition to this, a railed panel serving as a shield against any burning loads fallen on the vehicle. Special uniforms are designed and the staffs are coated with helmets, gas masks and oxygen tubes cover by protecting layers. As the mission is close fire fighting, the safety problem is evaluated at the top level.
3. How the sand processing and blasting system works?
Air-cooled 6-cylinder naturally aspirated in-line compressor, activated by a DC motor, creates high pressure air flow upwards through the hydraulic vacuum branch. The branch, on the tip has a specially designed nozzle head. The nozzle head has a planetary gear train system in which the external gear, by the circular toothed bar, forks and aerate the soil layer to help the vacuum process and the internal three gears provide effective suction performance. Moreover, the toothed bar on the external gear train is effective on digging large holes and planting the new trees.
The high pressured air-soil mixture is then sent to the rotary screen which consists of 2 truncated biaxial conical cylinders surrounded by tilted and aligned small leaves. The sorted and finely-granulated sand bits are then deployed at the 10 m 3 sand tank an is ready to be used in case of fire fighting. Besides oversized and waste sand particles are thrown to the ground as they move along the cylinder to the external side channels at the back corners of the vehicle.
In case of fire the deployed sand is blasted from the tank. The half of cylinders attached to the compressor, are for the mission of suction and deploying. However the other half is for rapid blasting of sand particles with high pressure air, effectively to the fire zone. The arm which is used for blasting, can be rotated 360 degrees and provides long range blasting in all directions
4. How has been the material selection made?
The material selection is made by focusing on the fire resistant properties of basic materials. Different combinations of usages are made to achieve the best protection and durability. The materials used at different sections are as follows:
The upper body part is a double aluminum layer between which an aggregate called perlite is fulfilled .Perlite is an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently. Therefore it provides efficient isolation from ultimate heat transfers at the fire zone. The external aluminum layer is coated with porcelain enamel for extra protection. Reflective surfaces are for extra precaution against overheating of the ambient.
The chassis is made of steel also coated with porcelain enamel which is an inorganic and vitreous coating used on metals for protective and functional purposes. After applying enamel to the base surface, vitrification firing is carried out at a very high temperature. This procedure triggers between the two surfaces chemical and physical reactions which create a new material combining the properties of glass (hygiene and hardness) and those of the base surface (resistance, formability and lightness) in the case of metal. The coating is resistant to fire, cold (-50Â°C) and to heat (450Â°C), thermal shock and corrosion by acids and alkali at ambient temperature, organic solvents and atmospheric agents
The lower body (in dark color) is made of a fireproof composite called FyreRoc. The FyreRoc/carbon composite can still support heavy loads at an ultimate temperature of 800°C (1470°F) while the other identically sized materials (like carbon/epoxy, aluminum, steel are not able to. In addition to this high protection, the mineral perlite is filled between the layers of fireproof composite.
The windows are made of tempered glass and 26 inch rims are made of stainless steel.
5. Mechanical specifications of the system parts :
The mechanical specifications of all the machines used in the truck are determined carefully in order to achieve the best performance. The specifications are listed below:
Six numbers of electric motors are mounted independently on the upward freedom of wheels. The specifications of the electric truck motor are as follows:
• Motor Type: 3 Phase AC
• Horsepower: 90 hp
• Power: 67 kW / 33 continuous
• RPM: 3500-9700
• Energy Capacity: PbA - 23 kWh/NiMH - 26 kWh
• Battery Type: PbA/NiMH
• Battery Modules: PbA 39/NiMH - 25
The Suspension System:
Wheel suspension system with double spring supports rely on each motor allowing permanent orthogonally of motor and the transmission components for continuous power transmission. Namely, the position of each motor can be adjusted to the position and angle of each corresponding wheel. All systems are designed by the design team.
The Transmission System:
Each wheel is manually or electrically controlled by torque system of each independent electric motor in the absence of transmission box. Electrical power driving system is used for variable torque distribution to each wheel by corresponding electrical motors.
Battery efficiency is conserved by incorporation of mode selectors, for both highways and unimproved terrain roads. The truck makes 60 miles per hour(max) on the highway road, and 25 miles/ hour (max) on the terrain pattern.
The mode selectors are part of computer controlled drive system which arrange the amount of torque by electronic circuits according to the mode preferred.
The conventional disk brakes system is used in the vehicle. The hybrid system will be protecting by IP.
The Power Generator:
The power generator on the truck responds to the needs of all 6 electric motors and the blasting mechanism also. This generator is 60 Hz Diesel Generator set which supplies 70kW (87.5 kVA) Power in stand-by mode, 65kW (81.3 kVA ) in prime mode. The fuel tank is modified and tank capacity is enlarged to 1400 liters. Standard integral set-mounted radiator system, designed and tested for rated ambient
Temperatures up to 50 °C, is used as the generator’s cooling system and simplifies facility design requirements for rejected heat.
Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) is the technology of choice for the emerging hybrid electric vehicle and is gaining acceptance for mission critical backup power needs due to its excellent performance, high energy, reliability, safety and long life.
Cobasys NiMHax Battery Pack is used. The specifications are as follows:
NiMHax 336-70; 3360V, 8.5 Ah, 70kW, 2.8 kWh designed for light trucks. The dimensions are: 1017 x 442 x 218mm. The batteries are in activate in the case of emergency.
Air-cooled 6-cylinder naturally aspirated in-line compressor is used in the truck for vacuum and blasting processes of sand particles. The compressor is air-cooled with integrated axial-flow blower and can operate at 2500rpm max. Power rating is 70 kW at 2300 rpm. The mean effective pressure is 6.45 bars.
6. The Fire Knight is diligently designed not only for fire fighting but also for before and after fire operations.
The method of transporting crews to a fire site varies depending on terrain and accessibility. Ground transport will usually relay fire crews to a fire within a reasonable driving distance of a fire base. Where no road access is available, or ground response time is prohibitive, crews are flown in by helicopter or by plane if a lake is nearby. In some cases, crews - called "smokejumpers" - are parachuted into remote wilderness locations as a first line of defense.
The key to controlling and suppressing a forest fire is getting man-power and equipment to the scene in as short a time as possible. The Fire Knight is able to cut a passage through the forest without cutting the trees and damaging the existing vegetation as a precaution activity of fastening the access to the prone zone. The created fire roads are fire resistant as they are coated with the non flammable sand particles.
The truck is able to clear away the active (the layer on the stem which is being on fire) and passive (the residual layer on the stem after the fire) carbon layers accumulated on the stems. Therefore it helps the flora fauna recondition itself.
Foresters may purposely ignite fires under carefully controlled conditions to remove unwanted debris following logging, to favor tree seedlings, or to keep fuels from accumulating. Since most grasses and shrubs grow well after fires, and animals are attracted to the tender and nutritious new growth, prescribed fires often benefit both wildlife and livestock. The mosaic of vegetation of different ages that results from frequent fires favors a rich diversity of plant and animal life. The Fire Knight can be effectively used in these kinds of purposely ignited fires like destroying the hay stacks in order to prevent the fire probability.
In addition to these, the truck can also be used in planting by the help of its shovel locating at the front side and its vacuum branch covered with toothed bar locating at the back side.
By courtesy of these facilities, the Fire Knight can effectively master the before and after fire operations.
7. Emphasis on the special features of AT4V:
The Fire Knight is specially designed treatment method for an open sore of the planet Earth: water shortage. The vehicle:
• Uses the most sustainable material on the Earth to extinguish the forest fires.
• Does not need to concern about the transportation of material to the zone as it can achieve regional material collection
• Uses sand particles which mix with the carbon layer and precipitate the formation of peat soil layer which brings long-lasting advantages for sustainability and enrichment of vegetation.
• Overcomes the vaporization of water and speed dissipation against the wind, increases the efficiency of blasting as the material used is sand.
• Uses sand blasting method which brings a new generic approach to the fire fighting system: as blasting the fire. Partitioning the fire allows soil to contact with air and cool down faster. Therefore the vehicle achieves cooling down process while extinguishing.
• Peels off the blasted parts on the trees, and isolates the died down regions from fire.
• Prepare fire breaks without cutting the trees and scarcely damaging the existing flora fauna.
• Has a blasting arm ,360 degree free to rotate around the vehicle, provides long range blasting in all directions
• Has 6 blasting nozzles at the two sides, in order to be effective also on extinguishing the near surroundings.
• is professionally designed to be made of fire resistant materials. The most effective composites and latest technology metal coating methods are thought to be used.
• works with diligently chosen mechanical devices in order to get the best performance.
• is able to clear away the active (the layer on the stem which is being on fire) and passive (the residual layer on the stem after the fire) carbon layers accumulated on the stems. Therefore it helps the flora fauna recondition itself.
• evaluates the importance of staff safety at top levels with specially designed uniforms, sliding windshield protector and reflective body surfaces.
• can effectively be used at purposely ignited fires like destroying the hay stacks in order to prevent the fire probability.
• can be used in planting by the help of its shovel locating at the front side and its vacuum branch covered with toothed bar locating at the back side.
Consequently, the Fire Knight is an environment-friendly forest fire fighting vehicle working without water. In the conflagration area, it is capable of extinguishing the fire by using the most sustainable material: soil. Besides, it is also strongly effective on caring, protecting, and enhancing the vegetation even in the absence of water.
HAKAN GURSU was born on 1959 in Istanbul. He graduated from Middle East Technical University as first rank student in 1987. He took his master’s degree from Department of Architecture in 1988. Gursu, continued his project studies at Japan in 1991 and completed his Ph.D studies in 1996. He worked as consultant on interior architecture and city planning in Moscow and Tokyo.
He contributed in the design of registered product design in the context of university and industry collaboration. Still he is going on his duites as an instructor in the Department of Industrial Design in METU and Designnobis.