iTunnel Technology and Applications

iTunnel Technology

At present, this system represents the best available multi-function device, high reliable and safe during operations, with redundant devices, different control and intervention modes, characterized by effectiveness, precision and speed of intervention.

Well-known technologies: water and foam cannons operated by remote control
These are the most popular fire-extinguishing devices in the world, used to suppress fires in industrial facilities and infrastructures (ports, airports), as they are able to shoot water and foam extinguishing agents at high pressure and power. They are highly safe in operation and do no use any toxic agent.

The innovation: the remote-controlled carriage
The carriage maximizes the effectiveness of the cannons, as it gives to the system promptness of response and adaptability to conditions.

The system can be operated in different modes:

  • Automatic mode
  • Semi-automatic mode
  • Manual mode operated by remote control
  • Manual mode operated by local control

The system is made up of the following main units:

  • Fixed structure (aerial rails)
  • Mobile structure (the carriage)
  • Pressurization and pumping station

The fixed structure
The aerial rails are mounted along the whole tunnel and are provided with docking stations, typically each 42 meters.

The fixed structure is extremely compact in order to reduce its overall dimensions and to be housed inside the tunnel.

The aerial structure

  • Ø 6 inches aerial pipe for supplying water or fire extinguishing foam
  • Pressure ≈ 10 bars
  • Translation rails

Systems:

  • Electrical power supply line
  • Serial bus for fibre-optic data transmission
  • Heat detection cable and fire detection cable



The mobile structure
An intelligent, multi-function, technologically equipped drone.

Equipment

  • Two directable cannons operated by remote control, having a flow rate of 1.000 l/min
  • Fire and temperature detectors to guide the cannons
  • One visible light camera
  • Two infrared cameras
  • Batteries to power the structure during its transfert
  • Fie and temperature detectors
  • Two gas detectors (1 inflammable gas + 1 toxic gas)
  • Control panel

The mobile structure: features

  • High transfer speed
  • Acceleration and braking
  • Efficient energy storing system with reduced weight and overall dimensions
  • High operational reliability
  • Moderate costs
  • Reduced overall dimensions to ease mounting inside motorway and railway tunnels
  • Possibility to mount and operate the system in any position (horizontal, vertical, inclined) at the top of the tunnel
  • Identification of its own position along the rails
  • Designed to be operated with water and fire-extinguishing agents

THE PUMPING STATION

  • Pumping unit
  • Electrical pump
  • Motor pump
  • Foam mixing unit


DIMENSIONING

  • According to tunnel length and features
  • One single station in a twin-bore tunnel or two adjacent tunnels

The optimum effectiveness of iTunnel is reached by installing two carriages in tunnels with lengths up to about 2,000 meters, and one extra carriage for each additional kilometre.


SYSTEM OPERATION MODES
The system can be operated in four different modes:

  • Automatic mode
  • Semi-automatic mode
  • Manual mode operated by remote control
  • Manual mode operated by local control

Every operation mode guarantees:

  • An efficient intervention
  • Operators’ safety


When operated by an operator, the latter is always in a secure environment, and can control the system with the highest precision and speed, thanks to a complete and detailed view on the fire scene.


iTunnel Applications

DIMENSIONING

iTunnel has been developed according to the Fire Safety Engineering methods, in cooperation with study and research institutions, and tested through operational trials.

The system activation steps are:

  • Detection: less than 1 minute to identify and confirm the presence of a fire.
  • Reaching: thanks to a speed higher than 40 km/h, the carriages need 1 minute to reach the fire scene.
  • Activation: the cannons are activated in a few seconds (coupling to the docking station, pointing, shooting).


RELIABILITY

Redundant elements

  • Cannons: two cannons placed at each side of the carriage.
  • Loop power supply of docking stations, independent and secure on both sides of the fire.
  • Double loop (optic fibre and copper) data communication.
  • Data communication (signals and commands) between each carriage and the control room via optic fibre + copper, as well as via dedicated high performance Wi-Fi.
  • Carriage translation powered by four independent electrical motors.
  • Two separate connectors for electrical power and signal connections between the docking station and the carriage, one is redundant.


INTEGRATION

iTunnel can be easily integrated with the existing, manual fire extinguishing systems prescribed by the law, such as fire hoses. It is sufficient to mount the fire hoses with a multiple step as regards the docking stations, typically 125.
Fire hoses can be supplied directly from the water and foam supplying pipes of the fixed structure, simply by installing a pressure regulator to reduce pressure to about 4÷5 bars, and providing the pumping station with a jockey pump able to keep the pressure required for fire hoses (5 bars) when the system is at rest.

iTunnel can be easily integrated in the existing tunnels, regardless the type (road, motorway, railway or underground tunnels). iTunnel can be mounted without interrupting tunnel exploitation.


MAINTENANCE

  • A central control unit continuously monitors all the units of the system. Therefore, any possible problem is immediately reported and logged.
  • All the elements of the different docking stations are immediately accessible for maintenance.
  • Carriages are easy to move during maintenance operations due to the remote control, which allows to guide the carriage in easily accessible points, without hindering the exploitation of the tunnel.
  • Easy maintenance operations using a lift truck while the tunnel is in exploitation


EVACUATION AID

In addition to its natural and primary function of fire protection device, iTunnel can be usefully employed for passengers’ and operators’ security, as well as for monitoring and maintenance even during tunnel exploitation. The system is able to:  

  • Inform the users by means of an amplified speaker system operated by remote control to give operational information (variable messages) such as: start water shooting alert; evacuation procedure alert, a.s.o.
  • Detect the presence of hazardous, combustible, flammable, toxic or corrosive substances

COMPARTMENTALIZATION

Thanks to the possibility of shooting a shower of water, iTunnel is able to compartmentalize the fire scene with a water shield of 1000 litre/sec. flow rate thus covering the whole section of the tunnel:

TRANSPORT OF USERS AND TOOLS
iTunnel can be transformed into a transport mean as it is fitted to mount an additional carriage  allowing:

  • To transport all the required tools to the fire scene.
  • To transport an injured person in a safe area

 
TRAFIC MANAGEMENT AND “FOLLOW ME” OPTION

iTunnel is ready to transform into a traffic management and speed lowering system.

  • The “follow me” signal allows the drone to run at a pre-set speed in order to level out speed and traffic under critical stop&go values.
  • The cameras allow to permanently measure and control the traffic.


VENTILATION SYSTEM MANAGEMENT

Thanks to the visible and infrared light cameras, to the traffic management system and to the fire and smoke detection system, iTunnel may be useful in reducing power consumption of ventilation systems, by measuring airflow and adjusting longitudinal/transversal ventilation.


ANCILLARY FUNCTIONS
iTunnel may also be used to perform auxiliary functions:

  • Soil recovery, by shooting depolluting agents in order to neutralize hydrocarbon spilling
  • Improvement of adherence conditions, by shooting cryogenic agents.
  • Washing of tunnel walls and road signs.


FEATURES

  • Very high reliability for fire extinction in any tunnel exploitation condition (traffic jam, accident, obstacles, etc.).
  • High extinction flow rate, suitable for any kind of fire.
  • Extremely long use.
  • At present, the most efficient fire extinguishing technology existing.
  • Different operation modes.
  • Absolutely safe thanks to the remote control.
  • Suitable for any type of tunnels: road, rail and U-tube tunnels.
  • Sure operational efficiency, thanks to the automatic and permanent diagnostics of the system, both in stand-by an operational conditions.
  • Low-cost congestionato management and maintenance.