Fire Test # 1

Conducted our first test today for the fire rated panel system. As mentioned prior, we are seeking to exceed the requirements for a class 1 building (residential house) and wanting levels required for a Class 2 building (apartments with shared walls / ceilings). This is an ambitious task.

We have received the (proper) panels which is a sandwich of fibreglass and custom vermiculite. To this we added a fire retardant tissue paper and allowed the resin to cure (refer to the testing blog)

The aim of this first test is to see what sort of heat reduction we can achieve using this system. Our current system design we have allowed for 250deg - 300deg of heat at the opposite end of the heat source. This heat defines the sort of resin system we use in the carbon fibre structural members to ensure they do not fail in the case of extreme fire.

The results were quite remarkable.

Initial heat at approx 500deg we only had around 30deg of heat on the opposite face. As we turned the heat up, this value didn't climb much at all. We were all dumbfounded (in a good way).

Next we turned up the flame and brought the flame closer to the panel. In the end we were at full burn, only 15cm away from the panel (approx 1,180 deg) and the opposite side was now slowly creeping up to around 120deg. So this was very exciting, however.... the heat now started to slowly climb (1deg - 2deg every 5 secs or so).

As you can see by the video, this 'jet' flame is forcing heat and 'bashing' the panel. This is not a situation that will ever happen in reality and quite a different outcome than we need to test to AS1530.4 which is a radiant heat, not a forceful jet flame.

So like an 'oxy torch' cuts through steel, the same thing was happening here, and given enough time the vermiculite would have been broken down. So this is not an issue given this is a different type of test. But what we learnt was:

  • the heat reduction achieved here is brilliant!

  • direct forceful flame at just under 1,200deg is going to distroy most things

  • we need to test again to see if the heat climbs with less forcefull jet flame (next we did heat test # 2).

  • to be safe increase the density of the vermiculite

  • the fire shield tissue is brilliant and did not fail or burn even at this extreme condition.

So we already know our system is better than we hoped. The next test is more to learn more about how it reacts to heat & flame and what we can do to improve the system even more.

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