1995 Proceedings Annual Reliability and Maintainability Symposium , pp. 1-6, January 1995.

Exploratory Research On Non-Thermal Damage Due To Electronics From Fires And Fire-Suppression Agents

 F. Mowrer, and M. Pecht


Electronic equipment is expected to operate reliably under normal conditions as well ass under foreseeable abnormal conditions, particularly in life-critical and environmentally sensitive applications.  One foreseeable abnormal condition to which electronic equipment may be subjected at least once during its life cycle is a fire environment.  Such an environment may include the thermal and corrosive effects in the immediate vicinity of the fire and the non-thermal effects associated with smoke contamination, humidity and corrosion in remote locations.

Direct thermal effects are generally so severe that reasonable remedial actions may not be feasible.  Fortunately, such effects are frequently restricted to a fairly small zone, often through the use of automatic fire detection and suppression systems.  On the other hand, the thermal decomposition products of smoke and fire suppression agents resulting from even a small fire may permeate a building and cause non-thermal damage to electronic equipment in locations remote from the actual fire.  With ever-increasing reliance being placed on electronic equipment in all types of applications and the consequent increase in value concentrations, non-thermal damage from fires and fire suppression agents is a topic of growing interest.  The purpose of this exploratory research is to characterize non-thermal damage mechanisms, consequences, and potential preventive and remedial actions using a physics-of-failure approach.

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