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Improved fire protection for steel supports

Scientists developed novel fire-protective paints for steel supports with superior technical characteristics at reduced cost. This should boost steel construction, which has been losing ground to concrete in recent years.
Improved fire protection for steel supports
Fires can cause damage to steel support structures, leading to collapse in the most severe cases. Application of special fire-retardant (intumescent) paints is the most common protective action, yet it is plagued by difficulties. Among the most prohibitive is the long drying time and application of several layers of paint. Given that treatment is typically done on-site, the result is high labour costs with extended disruption of the work site. Moreover, faulty application leads to potential fines and questionable protection.

EU-funded scientists developed a new generation of protective paints with work on the project 'Innovative fire protective coatings for steel structures' (STEELPROST). The novel formulations are designed to go on easier, stay on better and dry faster for an effective, economical and safe solution.

Lab-scale water-based coatings showed improved fire resistance and lowered intumescent temperature (where the coating puffs-up to form a protective shell around the steel structure). They also exhibited reduced drying times, significant reductions in cost with good mechanical and chemical performance accompanied by minimal smoke generation or toxic gas emission.

Stable intumescent dispersions were manufactured on industrial scale. Formulations were evaluated according to the Eurocodes for structural design (particularly the Structural Fire Engineering Design) to integrate them with advanced engineering criteria.

STEELPROST partners have applied for a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), an international agreement for filing of a patent. In addition, they have identified an investment strategy for certification and marketing.

Market statistics demonstrate a decline in the use of steel construction in favour of concrete due to the difficulties associated with fire protection. The large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that manufacture steel structures for the construction sector stand to benefit tremendously from STEELPROST outcomes.

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