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Effect of Surface Coatings on Fire Growth Over Composite Materials.

pdf icon Effect of Surface Coatings on Fire Growth Over Composite Materials. (3387 K)
Ohlemiller, T. J.; Shields, J. R.

NISTIR 5940; 36 p. December 1996.

Available from:

National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB97-129605


composite materials; fire growth; corners; fire resistance; flame spread; flammability; intumescent coatings


Structural composites are vulnerable to fire in two respects: 1) their resin content may ignite and enable the spread of flames over the surface of the structure; 2) the resin may degrade from the heat of a localized fire exposure thus weakening the composite structure. The present study focuses mainly in the first issue, in particular, on the ability of various commercial coatings to prevent flame spread. The second issue is examined briefly by applying thermocouples to the back surface of test specimens. Four commercial coatings have been tested over an unretarded vinyl ester/glass composite. In addition an uncoated phenolic/glass composite and a polyester/glass composite coated with a fire retarded resin were tested. In all cases the configuration was a 3.3 m high corner with a 53 cm square propane gas burner at its base, operated at 250 kW as the fire exposure. The results show that, with the proper choice of coating and coating thickness, fire growth can be suppressed quite effectively. Two of the coatings applied at a substantial thickness, were reasonably effective at slowing the penetration of heat to the back of the composite panels. The other coatings, much thinner in application, were notably less effective at slowing heat penetration.