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Posted on 07/11/2018 in 2018
Research roadmap to reduce materials’ fire hazards

A report from NIST (USA) aims to identify research priorities, “to enable the global fire community to develop a multi-year R&D plan to improve the fire resistance of products”. The report is based on a stakeholder workshop involving industry, researchers, public authorities and fire testing laboratories. It looked at future construction materials, advanced polymers and composites, transport and infrastructure and next generation flame retardants. Questions particularly raised included use of wood in sustainable construction (fire safety of tall timber buildings, fire behaviour of CLT – cross-laminated timber), cellulose- and fibre-polymer composites, future electrical and electronic systems (high-energy concentrating batteries, multiplication of remotely controlled devices, increasing electrical connections and loads). Key conclusions were that “materials are the single largest factor in fire safety – the largest contributor to the severity of a fire and the largest contributor to eliminating the fire risk”. Test methods need to be updated and correlated with real fire scenarios, and to take into account tomorrow’s fire fuels (new materials). Current tests tend to be reactive (not proactive), pass/fail and focus on individual components or materials not systems. Smoke toxicity is important, especially in transport applications, but current tests of smoke toxic potency (ISO 16312) need to be improved. For flame retardants, minimising impacts on human health and the environment is essential. Research priority applications identified were: residential upholstered furniture, WUI (wildfire urban interface) communities, multi-storey timber construction, passenger railway vehicles and high-rise exterior insulation.

“Workshop Report: Research Roadmap for Reducing the Fire Hazard of Materials in the Future”, NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) Special Publication 1220, March 2018 (report of workshop 18-19 August 2016, Gaithersburg, Maryland) https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.SP.1220 or https://www.nist.gov/publications/workshop-report-research-roadmap-reducing-fire-hazard-materials-future

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