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PREDFIRE-NANO — Result In Brief

Project ID: 13998
Funded under: FP6-NMP

Nanotechnology and fire safety

Studying the initiation and propagation of fire at the smallest of scales in the laboratory has yielded results applicable on the grandest of scales with an eye toward saving lives.
Nanotechnology and fire safety
Though fire prevention efforts have come a long way, too many lives are still lost every year in related accidents. Technology has been a valuable ally and today the age of nanotechnology is ushering in many new opportunities to overcome deficiencies with conventional fire safety products.

A prime example is the replacement of halogen-based fire retardant materials, which deplete ozone in the stratosphere and cause other environmental impacts, with nanocomposite polymers. Important research in this area has been funded by the European Union.

One obstacle we face is the lack of standardised tests to determine the flammability and other burning properties of the new materials since existing tests are not suitable. This challenge was taken up by participants of the 'Predicting Fire Behaviour of Nanocomposites from Intrinsic Properties' (Predfire-nano) project.

Several fire retardant nanocomposite polymers were selected for the study and evaluated in the laboratory using different techniques. In addition, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models were exploited to predict behaviour at the larger scales based simply on the data collected in the laboratory. Trials with experimental coatings were also carried out during the project.

Though issues related to delaying ignition and reducing smoke production remain challenging, significant progress was made toward reducing flammability. It should also be noted that the environmental profile of the candidate nanocomposite polymers is further strengthened by the fact that they can be manufactured from recycled materials.

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