Predicting Fire Behaviour of Nanocomposites from Intrinsic Properties

Within the 6th EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, the "Predfire-NANO" project started on February 1st, 2005 and will take 3 years. There are 14 partners participating in the project (5 from universities, 4 from industry, and 5 from small and medium enterprises). The overall aim of this project is to develop a tool for the prediction of large-scale burning behaviour of polymer nanocomposites using intrinsic property data extracted from small-scale measurements. This project will advance the knowledge in the frontier areas of nanotechnology and fire prediction and moreover, it will enable the development of materials with higher fire safety by using flame retardant systems containing nanocomposites in selected polymers. The development and availability of new flame retarded polymers has increased over the last ten years because of the growing substitution of halogenated flame retardants by other systems

  • the adoption of European harmonised tests such as the SBI (Single Burning Item)
  • the application of performance based fire safety engineering and
  • the growth of nanotechnology

The discovery of polymer nanocomposites (such as nanoclays) has been especially promising. They reduce fuel formation by promoting char development, and are effective in low dosages of only 2 ... 5 %. However, until now sufficient fire protection has only been accomplished by the combination of nanocomposites and traditional flame retardants.

The development of these materials will be based on a fundamental methodology or tests to assess their flammability and burning behaviour in real-scale fires. This work will for the first time combine micro-scale measurements with those of small-scale physical fire models for predicting the fire growth behaviour of the polymer materials in real fires.

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