Elevating Fire Suppression: Ultrasonic Testing for Accurate Foam Proportioner Measurement and Fire Cylinder Contents

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When it comes to fire suppression systems, ensuring the correct mixing ratio of foam is crucial. Traditionally, foam proportioner testing involved discharging foam on deck and analyzing samples. However, this method is not always practical due to environmental regulations. Ultrasonic technology has revolutionized the testing process, providing a more efficient and environmentally friendly solution. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of ultrasonic testing, including measuring contents in fire cylinders, and introduce the Portasonic® 2.FL0 and Portamarine® as powerful tools for accurate measurement. 

In pic: Fixed Fire Fighting Foam System Onboard Vessels

In pic: Fixed CO2 Fire Extinguisher Cylinders Onboard Vessels

Foam Proportioner Testing Onboard Vessels – How is it done? 

The foam proportioner ensures the correct mixing ratio of foam concentrate and water. Traditionally this involves discharging foam on deck and then taking the foam sample to be analysed to determine the mixing ratio. This traditional method of checking the foam proportioner within a firefighting system has several disadvantages. 

    1. Environmental Concerns: Discharging foam on deck for analysis is not allowed in port areas due to environmental concerns. This means that vessels have to travel miles away from port to perform the test, resulting in time and fuel consumption. 
    2. Inconvenience and Cost: Conducting the traditional test requires discharging foam on deck, collecting samples, and sending them for analysis. This process is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and costly. 
    3. Limited Availability: Not all foam system manufacturers have the capability to test the foam proportioner separately from the system, as recommended by IMO guidelines. This can limit the options available to vessel operators. 
    4. Delayed Results: With the traditional method, there is a delay between conducting the test and receiving the analysis results. This delay can impact the vessel’s operations and readiness in case of an emergency. 
    5. Environmental Impact: Discharging foam, even miles away from port, still poses environmental risks. Foam contains chemicals that may be harmful to marine life and ecosystems. 

    Fire Cylinder Banner

    Measuring Contents in Fire Cylinders – How is it done? 

    Traditionally, fire cylinder contents onboard marine vessels are measured using several methods, each with their own disadvantages. One common method is the use of pressure gauges, which provide an indication of the remaining contents based on the pressure inside the cylinder. However, this method has limitations as the pressure reading may not always accurately reflect the actual contents due to factors such as temperature variations and pressure loss over time. This can lead to unreliable measurements and potentially incorrect assessments of the available fire suppression capacity. 

    Another method involves physically weighing the cylinders to determine the contents. However, this approach is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and requires specialized equipment. It also poses challenges on board ships due to limited space and the need to handle heavy cylinders, which increases the risk of accidents and injuries. There is also a high risk of accidental discharges, due to the need to dismantle the cylinders to weigh them. 

    In summary, traditional methods of measuring fire cylinder contents onboard marine vessels suffer from inaccuracies, reliance on subjective estimation, time-consuming procedures, potential safety hazards, and a lack of traceability and compliance. Alternative technologies, such as ultrasonic liquid level indicators, offer more precise and efficient solutions for accurately measuring fire cylinder contents onboard marine vessels. 

    In pic: Portamarine®

    in pic: Portasonic® 2.FL0

    Coltraco Ultrasonics’ Solution: Ultrasonic Testing of Foam Proportioner and Measuring Contents in Fire Cylinders:  

    Ultrasonic technology provides a non-destructive and accurate solution for both foam proportioner testing and contents measurement in fire cylinders.  

    The Portasonic® 2.FL0 ultrasonic clamp-on flowmeter offers a beneficial solution for checking the mixing ratio of the foam proportioner within marine firefighting systems without the need to discharge foam on deck. By replacing foam with seawater, which has a similar density to foam, the Portasonic® 2.FL0 enables accurate measurement of the mixing ratio. The flowmeter is non-intrusive and can be easily clamped onto the foam liquid line and water/foam line, providing precise flow measurements at both points. By comparing the flow rates, the correct mixing ratio can be determined. This method eliminates the environmental concerns associated with discharging foam on deck near ports, making it more environmentally friendly. The Portasonic® 2.FL0 offers a practical and efficient alternative for assessing the foam proportioner’s performance and ensuring compliance with IMO guidelines. 

    The Portamarine® simplifies the cylinder contents identification process by offering quick and accurate measurements of fire cylinder contents. It eliminates the need for manual weighing or system dismantling, allowing the crew to efficiently assess and maintain fire cylinders with minimal disruption. With its hands-free operation and robust design, the Portamarine® is a go-to choice for shipping companies worldwide, ensuring compliance with regulations and reducing servicing costs. It allows vessels to comply with IMO requirements safely and reliably. 

    Benefits of Portasonic® 2.FL0 and Portamarine®: 

    Portasonic® 2.FL0

        • Revolutionising Foam Proportioner Testing: The Portasonic® 2.FL0 ultrasonic clamp-on flowmeter replaces the need to discharge foam on deck, addressing environmental concerns near ports. 

        • Environmentally Friendly Solution: By utilizing seawater as a substitute, the Portasonic ensures accurate testing without harming the environment. 

        • Precise Flow Measurement: The non-intrusive flowmeter accurately measures flow rates at two critical points in the foam system, enabling precise assessment. 

        • Determining the Perfect Mix: By comparing flow rates, the Portasonic® 2.FL0 determines the correct mixing ratio of the foam proportioner, ensuring optimal performance. 

        • Hassle-Free Installation: Easily clamp the Portasonic® 2.FL0 onto the relevant lines for seamless and efficient testing. 

        • Compliant and Reliable: The Portasonic® 2.FL0 enables adherence to IMO guidelines while providing dependable results for foam proportioner testing 


          • Quick and efficient: Specifically designed for CO2 fire cylinder servicing, eliminating the need for weighing cylinders or dismantling systems.

          • Enhanced safety: Eliminates lifting and dismantling requirements, reducing the risk of injuries or accidental discharges.

          • Time and cost savings: Significantly reduces servicing time compared to manual weighing methods, with measurements taking less than a minute per cylinder.

          • IMO SOLAS compliant: Comply with IMO SOLAS FSS codes and MSC.1/Circ. 1318 safely and reliably


        Ultrasonic technology, along with innovative tools such as the Portasonic® 2.FL0 and Portamarine®, has revolutionized foam proportioner testing and measuring contents in fire cylinders. These advancements provide accurate, non-invasive, and efficient solutions for maintaining the optimal mixing ratio and ensuring the readiness of firefighting systems. By embracing ultrasonic technology and utilizing tools like the Portamarine®, marine vessels can enhance safety measures, improve system effectiveness, and streamline the maintenance process for fire cylinders. 

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