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Hexagon Digital Wave Statement on Life Extension of DOT – CFFC Carbon Composite Cylinders

Updated: Jan 18, 2019



The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued the Digital Wave Corporation Special Permit (SP) 16320 which authorized the extended use of DOT-CFFC cylinders past 15 years of service life. This action was in line with the third provision (CFFC-3) from the original design standard under which carbon fiber composite cylinders are manufactured to in the United States (DOT-CFFC Basic Requirements).


In April of 2017 a precedent setting press release was issued by DOT PHMSA,


DOT Press Release


highlighting the estimated $350 million savings that SP 16320 offered First Responders. As a response to the issuance of SP 16320, entrenched stakeholders in the SCBA manufacturing market issued statements asserting that SP 16320 was not as beneficial as intended because there was a requirement to cover up the original manufacturing Special Permit which they believed invalidated the NIOSH approval of the cylinder. In response to this assertion, Digital Wave Corporation submitted, and DOT PHMSA processed an Emergency Special Permit Modification Request in October of 2017 eliminating the requirement to cover the original manufacturing special permit number. This move was a solidification of the US DOT PHMSA’s intent to save First Responders millions of taxpayer dollars.


During the special permitting process Digital Wave supplied data to DOT PHMSA on a battery of physical testing coupled with Modal Acoustic Emission (MAE) examination to validate the accuracy and efficiency of the inspection technique, as well as the ability of the cylinders to sustain additional service. This required collecting cylinders throughout the entire Fire Industry that had been in circulation for their originally allotted service interval. This data showed cylinders exhibited no degradation in strength or fatigue performance from their time of manufacture,


DOT Report


as well as highlighting the ability of MAE to identify cylinders which had intentionally compromised performance (i.e., impacted or cut).


In the entrenched stakeholders position statements, it was stated that currently they do not support or recognize life extension. The critical point that First Responders must remind themselves of when considering whether or not to life extend their cylinders is that entrenched SCBA Manufacturers do not regulate the safety of their cylinders, the US DOT PHMSA does. In reviewing the data presented and issuing SP 16320, the US DOT PHMSA has stated that a life extended cylinder is at least as safe as a virgin manufactured CFFC cylinder.


To date, Digital Wave Corporation maintains a position of willingness to incorporate all key stakeholders in its effort to safely life extend DOT – CFFC cylinders, in the process saving millions of dollars of First Responders’ budgets.


For more information: Mark E. Anderson, Director Sales and Marketing, Digital Wave Corporation Telephone: 303-790-7559 | marka@digitalwavecorp.com


Dr. Brian Burks, VP Engineering, Digital Wave Corporation Telephone: 303-790-7559 | brianb@digitalwavecorp.com


About Hexagon Digital Wave, LLC: Hexagon Digital Wave, LLC is a privately held manufacturer of ultrasonic examination (UE) cylinder testing equipment, modal acoustic emission (MAE) testing equipment and a provider of associated inspection services. With applications worldwide, Digital Wave and its partners serve government and private clients in the compressed gas, pressure vessel and cylinder industries. Applications include all metallic and composite pressure vessels from low to ultra high pressure applications. 

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