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Smart ‘eye’ prevents scrap fires becoming an inferno

Camera security specialist Kooi and Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions of the Netherlands have come together to tackle the number of scrap fires. Key to their mission is RED, the ‘Rising Early Detection’ system.

A scrap fire is recyclers’ worst nightmare and is a fast-growing problem for many worldwide. With more ‘hidden’ lithium batteries ending up in scrap piles, fires have increased dramatically during the past five years, causing damage costing multimillions of Euros.

In Canada and the United States, at least 317 fire incidents at waste and recycling companies were reported in 2020, resulting in 23 injuries. According to fire prevention specialist Fire Rover, these figures represent ‘only the tip of the iceberg’. In the UK, lithium-ion batteries are the cause of half of the waste fires that take place every year, costing EUR 160 million.

In the past three years, the Netherlands alone has had to deal with at least 243 fires at waste and recycling operations, national insurance companies report. The Dutch association estimates damage of EUR 175 million during the past three years. Recyclers can only get insurance if they are willing to invest in prevention measures and tools.

The national waste management association has called for a task force to tackle the blight.

The RED system

Meanwhile, advanced technology can help tackle the problem – or at least eliminate the scale of major fires. Dutch camera security expert Kooi has developed a smart camera to detect rising temperatures in scrap piles. So far, the company claims, this tool has prevented 350 small incidents from becoming major fires.

Kooi’s Rising Early Detecion (RED) system detects otherwise invisible temperature rises at an early stage. Abnormal temperature rises are reported immediately to specialists from Kooi, who monitor 24/7 from a central control bunker. They alert security guards, police and fire brigade to go onto the site.

‘With this tool we can prevent the kinds of dangers that are invisible to the human eye’, says ceo Pieter Kooi. During the summer period, the risk increases because the waste is stored for longer periods because of a lower collection frequency and fewer maintenance stops. ‘Fires happen spontaneously and occur at waste stored at transfer stations, in places where it is waiting for processing and sometimes even in garbage trucks.’

Bollegraaf steps in

Bollegraaf Recycling Solutions is providing waste and recycling companies with Kooi’s RED system. Bollegraaf has concluded an exclusive agreement to distribute the system in Europe ‘with the prospect of global cooperation’.

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