Intumescent coatings are used to protect structural steelwork during a fire. These coatings expand 50 to 100 times when heated in air (Figure 1). They form a high volume, carbon foam which acts as a heat resistant barrier and keeps the steel cool. The insulating effect of the carbon foam ensures that the steel retains its structural integrity while people exit the building and the fire is brought under control. The coatings in Figure 2 have been heated in an industrial, gas-fired furnace.
Figure 1. Increase in volume of an intumescent coating after heating rapidly to 500°C.
Figure 2. 1 metre long steel girders coated with an intumescent paint after 60 minutes at 1000°C.
PCAS staff have made significant improvements to commercially available intumescent coatings extending the char's robustness, extending the operating window and improving the scratch resistance of the applied coating. The intellectual property has been protected.