Ultrasound Explained

One of the sciences being harnessed by innovators in the fire safety sector is that of Ultrasound: i.e. acoustic (sound) energy in the form of waves of high frequency that are above the human audible range. Although the shipping world merely uses it as a tool to gauge thickness, it has seen far more varied use across military, medical and industrial fields. 

Sound is, in itself, vibrations that propagate as a mechanical wave or pressure and transmit through solid, liquid or gaseous mediums. Coltraco is one of a number of companies using these fundamental physical principles to design and manufacture products and systems that can be used by fire engineers and their customer installations. Ultrasound is merely sound beyond our audible range. Dolphins and whales can communicate at sea over long ranges as sound travels more efficiently through liquids than air. We use this principle to identify that difference in a cylinder containing liquefied agent. Consider ones ears as ”the receiver” and ones mouth as the “transmitter”. Sound will arrive at ones ears at different times. The reason though that we hear a unitary sound is that our brain processes it to one. This is what we do by processing the returning ultrasound. In the air bats navigate by airborne ultrasound. We can do the same for contents and room integrity monitoring in the fire industry.

By utilising a sensor which acts as a transceiver, an ultrasonic measuring device is capable of detecting liquid levels within any single-skinned container through transmitting an ultrasonic pulse and analysing the strength of the returned signal to determine the level of contents. As sound behaves differently in air and liquid, so will the strength of the returned signal be different in the liquid allowing us to identify the level of contents accurately. Similarly, leaks can be effectively detected through an ultrasound generator placed in an enclosure and an ultrasound receiver outside of the enclosure to measure the amount of ultrasound that leaks from the seals and cracks which has the potential to affect the ability for a clean agent to extinguish fires due to the retention time it needs upon discharge to function at its best. Taking these collected data and transmitting them wirelessly over TCP/IP, true remote monitoring of your fire suppression systems is possible anywhere around the world.

Coltraco manufacture the portable liquid level indicator Portalevel™ used by fire technicians for the contents checking of CO2, old Halons, FM-200™ and NOVEC™ 1230.

  • Portalevel™ liquid level readings are then converted to agent weight readings via Portasteele™ Calculator – Calculating fire suppression agent weight  the world’s first
  • Constant monitoring of the contents of gaseous systems are now enabled via the 24/7 system Permalevel™ Multiplex

Carnival Cruises chose Coltraco to supply their Fleet with the UL Listed and ABS approved Portalevel® MAX Marine in order to address the issue of the ungoverened space. The Portalevel Max Marine in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® MAX with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes with two people labouriously weighing. Using ultrasonic technology - to pinpoint the liquid level of suppressant agent in the cylinders of the fire extinguishing system- testing is made quicker and easier. The Portalevel® MAX Marine is designed primarily for maritime applications where either third party approved service companies or the vessels’ crew themselves inspect large fire suppression systems which can have up to 600 cylinders. The ease of operation in comparison to weighing increases the ability of the servicing/crew to make more regular and more frequent checks, thus improving fire safety management system (SMS) onboard. The ABS Product Design Assessment certification categorises the Portalevel ® Max as a practical and effective unit which complies with international standards.

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