Polymer composite provides better fire protection than steel

Mar 27, 2006

The U.S. Navy needs lighter materials so ships will go further faster. One way to do that is to use new composite materials. But how will these materials respond to fire -- one of the most critical safety concerns on a ship? Virginia Tech material scientists have developed models to test composites for fire resistance – and have a recommendation.

John Bausano, a doctoral student in the chemistry-engineering interdisciplinary Macromolecular Science and Infrastructure Engineering program at Virginia Tech, will present his research in the Excellence in Graduate Polymer Science Research Symposium at the 231st American Chemical Society National Meeting in Atlanta on March 26-30.

Working with Jack Lesko, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics, Bausano developed a testing method – a one-sided heat flux test that can be used on a sample as small as one inch by six inches (1x6") to test a commercially available material – E-glass vinyl ester composite laminates. One side of the material is heated to simulate fire on one side of a wall. A load is placed on one edge to simulate a load-bearing wall. "We measure the deflection, failure, and how hot it gets on the cool side," said Bausano. "That is an important issue because you don't want the fire to spread."

His findings are that the composite material being tested does localize heat, "especially compared to steel, which conducts heat in all directions."

His recommendation as other materials and processing are considered is, "Develop the material with as high a glass transition (Tg) temperature as you can in order to sustain structural rigidity. That would help the engineers and the sailors. The longer the material stays above Tg, or the softening point, the longer the wall will stand. Tg is the upper temperature level of usefulness."

Composite materials would also be useful on oil platforms, where fire is also a concern, he said.

Source: Virginia Tech

Explore further: Hackers threaten phone in your pocket, experts warn

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why your laptop battery won't kill you

Mar 03, 2015

News on Tuesday that major U.S. airlines are no longer going to ship powerful lithium-ion batteries might lead some to fret about the safety of their personal electronic devices.

Adhesives and insulating foams from softwood bark tannins

Feb 23, 2015

In collaboration with its partners, VTT developed tannin extraction from softwood bark as part of an ERA-NET project. At least 130 kg of crude tannin powder can be produced from one tonne of dry wood bark, still leaving 87% ...

Fires and snow in Central Europe

Feb 18, 2015

The Aqua satellite captured this image on February 17, 2015 of multiple hot spots scattered throughout the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia landscape.

Recommended for you

Watches, robots suitcases: mobile gadget highlights

6 hours ago

Tech companies showcased countless connected gadgets at the world's biggest wireless telecom fair, the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which wrapped up on Thursday. Here is a selection of highlights:

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.