Using a fire extinguisher as a CO2 source for a calcium reactor

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Advice' started by Reef Maniac, 20 Aug 2011.

  1. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac MASA Contributor

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    There has been quite a lot of talk/questions regarding sources of CO2 gas and cylinders for use with calcium reactors, so I thought that I should show how I DIY'd mine :biggrin:

    The CO2 gas used to refill CO2 fire extinguishers is quite pure, even though it is "industrial" quality, and I have been using this gas for many years now without any problems. I previously used an aluminium cylinder from Azoo, which I bough many years ago, but it recently popped it's emergency relief valve, and I just could not find a suitable replacement - so I changed to a larger fire extinguisher cylinder. These cylinders, being made from steel, are much stronger and thus safer than the aluminium cylinders, and much easier to have refilled, as they are all stamped with the SABS mark.

    The Azoo regulator and needle valve were pretty bad quality, and did not last more than a few months. I replaced them with a welding regulator (Argon/CO2 type, used for TIG/MIG welding, and bought from our local welding supplier) and an old Whitey needle valve scrounged off a disused laboratory apparatus (they can be bought commercially from Afrox, I think).

    So, here's some photos: Note that the cylinder is mounted upside down. This is rather important, as an unmodified extinguisher-type cylinder has a pipe on the inside going down to the bottom of the cylinder, so as to allow liquid CO2 to be ejected onto the fire that one would normally use this for. It is not a good idea, though, to allow liquid CO2 to flow through the regulator, and turning the cylinder upside-down alleviates this problem. I also chose to mount it on a wooden "stand", to make it portable - I can now move it out of my cabinet (it normally stands next to the sump) if I need space to work around the sump.

    [​IMG]

    The biggest disadvantage of a fire fighting CO2 cylinder is the lack of a shut-off valve, with these cylinders only having a "trigger" type of valve. To overcome this problem, I merely drilled a small hole in the "trigger" bar, and tied the trigger "open" with a short length of copper wire, as can be seen in this next photo:

    [​IMG]

    Well, there you go - pretty cheap, and it works great :thumbup:

    Hennie
     
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  3. lIghty

    lIghty

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    Truly South African!

    Good one Hennie:)
     
  4. Tremayn

    Tremayn

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    its almost ghetto.. lol :) .. diy is the best
     
  5. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Yup, but only where needed - the fire extinguisher cost me all of R245.00, and that included the CO2 :whistling:

    I paid a lot more for the Argon/CO2 regulator (about R800.00 some 8-10 years ago, if I remember correctly), but THAT's the important part, as the pressure can be regulated very accurately - much better than any regulator one can buy in the hobby. It is big, it is ugly, but it WORKS :thumbup:

    Hennie
     
  6. RiaanP

    RiaanP Moderator

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    Nice.
    I would like to make it a bit more compact. The pipe between cylinder and regulator could be a bit shorter. And the exit pipe be bend around the back so that it is behind the regulator. Could then fit easier without that pointing end in the way.

    But it is a clever cheaper alternative.
     
  7. Reef Maniac

    Reef Maniac Thread Starter MASA Contributor

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    Agreed - I previously had it set up on the Azoo cylinder, which was standing upright, on a shelf to the side of my tank. In this position, the whole regulator/valve/tubing was against the wall, and came down towards the sump - convenient and out of the way... I'm waiting for the fire extinguisher cylinder to empty, so that I can remove the inner tube, after which this cylinder will also be used "right-side up". I will only then finalize the layout of the regulator and valve... but for now, ghetto it is :biggrin:

    Hennie
     
    Last edited: 21 Aug 2011
  8. leslie hempel

    leslie hempel Moderator MASA Contributor

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    nice info hennie...
     
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