Advanced fire safety systems in buildings become increasingly paramount as urbanization increases.

Fireproofing plays a vital role in protecting structures from widespread damage. While conventional materials like concrete and masonry are effective, these innovative solutions offer enhanced protection and flexibility.

Fungi Fire-Retardant Cladding

Australian scientists are studying how to fight fire with fungi to replace toxic flame retardants currently used in building materials with bio-based alternatives.

Researchers at RMIT University have devised a viable way to utilize bio-derived mycelium, which produces naturally occurring water and CO2 when exposed to fire, as a cladding component. This solution involves stacking paper-thin sheets of fungi to create a protective outer covering for a building’s exterior. It could also be used to develop flame-resistant textiles, revolutionizing the fashion industry.

Unlike conventional fire retardants like bromide, iodide and phosphorus that have adverse environmental effects when burned, these mycelium sheets form a thermal protective char layer without the carcinogenic effects.

Intumescent Coatings

Intumescent coatings expand when exposed to high temperatures, forming a solid foam-like char layer that insulates the substrate. As an advanced building solution, this fireproof paint is typically applied as an undercoat to walls, decks, rails and even load-bearing steel beams for extended fire resistance.

The science behind intumescent coating’s fire-retardant properties lies in its carefully formulated composition. The paint comes in various types, such as water, solvent, epoxy and hybrid formulations, each providing unique benefits. As the temperature rises during a fire, these compounds undergo a chemical reaction that releases nonflammable gasses, causing the coating to swell.

The thickened char layer acts as a barrier, effectively slowing the spread of fire and protecting the substrate structure from intense heat for an extended period. This allows more time for building evacuation and fire suppression efforts.

Kaolin Clay

Kaolin is a naturally occurring mineral found in soil and rock across Australia and other regions worldwide. It is a highly versatile material that has many applications in the construction industry. As a cement mix additive, Kaolin’s high pozzolanic activity — the ability to react with calcium hydroxide — enhances concrete’s strength and durability, which includes the material’s natural fire resistance.

Studies are also researching using Kaolin clay to amplify the thermal resistance of cellulose hydrogel to create environmentally friendly, nontoxic fire retardants. Incorporating kaolin improved char formation by up to 63% and exhibited a much lower heat release rate, making the hydrogel more effective at curbing flames.

Fire-Resistant Glass

Specially treated glass can prevent shattering in high temperatures and curtail fire spread within the building. Different fire-resistant glass types exist, from single-hardened panes to laminated panels for improved glazing.

Modern advancements combine multilayered glazing systems with intermediate retardant materials to enhance fire-resistant characteristics. When a fire occurs, these interlayers react to the heat and expand to form a protective barrier that prevents flames and smoke from infiltrating the glass.

Thanks to these upgrades, the global fire-resistant glass market is poised for increased growth at a 10% CAGR by 2033.

Self-Healing Nanoparticle Wood Treatments

Researchers have been working on improving the flame retardancy of wood using self-healing hydrogel coatings. These nanoparticles simulate biological processes to enhance water retention and boost endurance against fire damage.

Preliminary tests show that these coatings, when applied to wood surfaces, can increase the time to ignition from 32 seconds to 69 seconds and decrease the total heat release rate by 36.14%. These features are essential to reducing widespread damage and can be instrumental in lengthening the time available for residents to evacuate during a fire.

Explore the Latest Fire-Resistant Building Solutions

Advanced fire retardant materials are increasingly crucial as building safety regulations become more stringent.

Architects and builders can create safer and more resilient structures by incorporating these solutions into their designs. As technology evolves, the construction industry can expect to see additional innovative fireproofing materials that will develop safer and more durable buildings.

 

Enjoying Sourceable articles? Subscribe for Free and receive daily updates of all articles which are published on our site

 

Want to grow your sales, reach more new clients and expand your client base across Australia’s design and construction sector?

Advertise on Sourceable and have your business seen by the thousands of architects, engineers, builders/construction contractors, subcontractors/trade contractors, property developers and building industry suppliers who read our stories across the civil, commercial and residential construction sector