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Improving efficiency and maintaining fire safety through proper facility sealing

In the vertical farming industry, we hear a lot about the different materials used in a build, but less so about how these materials are brought together to produce a safe, efficient space. Vertical farming pulls so many elements together into one closed environment – plants, water, airflow, electricity, fertilizers and other chemicals, etc.

“We support a fire-safe and efficient design to maintain the rating intended by a building’s designers and architects,” says Rich Story, National Sales Manager of Infrastructure at Roxtec.

Roxtec’s systems are used to seal pipes, cables, and conduits to prevent leakage, improve efficiency, and maintain the fire-ratings of a facility. This is critical in any type of building, including vertical farms, which bring together a high volume of air, high humidity levels, airflow challenges, and multiple electrical systems. While it is standard practice to keep the production area and electrical systems apart, the connection between the two can represent a significant loss in efficiency and an increased fire risk if not managed properly.

“There is a lot of energy that goes into moving air, so the better you prevent air leakages, the more efficient your system. Properly sealing cable entries also allows us to prevent humidity and condensation in those area where those are detrimental, like in electrical rooms,” says Rich.

Aside from preventing leakages of air and humidity in the space, proper sealing with Roxtec materials can also go a long way in preventing dust, disease, insect and even rodent infiltration in the vertical farm – all of which can devastate production once introduced.

Maintaining UL ratings through high-quality seals
Concerning fire resistance, Roxtec, on its own, does not prevent fires but helps to maintain the fire ratings of the construction materials by providing a tight seal. As Rich explains, different types of walls have different fire ratings, which indicate the material’s resistance to fire. However, simply passing cables and conduits through walls without proper sealing decreases this fire rating and insulation factor by letting air, humidity, and other particulates pass through. With high-quality seals, facilities can maintain a high fire (F) and smoke (L) rating.

“Roxtec’s seals do not prevent fire itself, but we maintain the initial fire design. We make sure that the fire-rated wall and floor maintains its rating after having punched holes into it for passing wires and such,” explains Rich.

Roxtec’s solutions typically have a UL fire rating ranging from one to four hours, with the exact system used being selected based on the wall’s fire rating. Roxtec’s systems also offer spare capacity, which allows operators to go back into the system, add things, close it back up again, and still have the appropriate rating.

“This spare capacity is really important when you are building a facility but are also expecting to change and grow in the future, as it allows you to do so without compromising on safety and efficiency,” Rich says.

Roxtec’s systems have been tested in accordance with leading certifying authorities in the US, Europe, and Asia-South Pacific. The company has worked in multiple industries beyond controlled environment agriculture, including data centers, battery plants, energy generation, marine, and telecommunications. Bringing this expertise to the table during the design phase of the vertical farms allows the operators to protect their equipment in the long term, improve efficiencies in the space, and not compromise safety.

For more information:
Rich Story, National Sales Manager of Infrastructure