Taiwanese researchers have developed a non-toxic, ignition-resistant, fire-protection technology that can be used as a coating, composite or a variety of other materials.
Reddex is the first non-toxic composite material technology to offer both ignition resistance and fire protection, according to the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Taiwan’s largest R&D institution, where the material was developed.
ITRI says Reddex “introduces a new family of polymer inorganic composite, which provides ignition resistance and effectively slows down the rate at which fire burns.”
Texas A & M
|Reddex slows ignition and burning and reduces smoke levels and toxicity, the developer says.|
Slower-burning fires would provide more time for occupants to escape and for firefighters to reach the scene. The formula also produces less, and non-toxic, smoke—one of the biggest dangers in a fire, ITRI says.
Reddex can be prepared as a paint, paste or foam, and as a rigid or flexible material. It can be coated onto polymeric foam, wood, silicate board and metal substrates, for the construction of fire-resistant layered structures, while Reddex composites are designed to adhere to these substrates. The technology can also be incorporated into films, tapes, hoses, tubes, electrical cables and wires.
“Reddex signals a breakthrough in fire prevention and will play an integral role in reducing the risks associated with fires,” said Echo Tseng, director of business development at ITRI’s Commercialization and Industry Service Center. “Reddex’s versatility makes it cost-effective. We anticipate material manufacturers being particularly interested in this technology.”
Reddex’s secret is its polymer component, which chars and burns at a slower rate than any other fire retardant, according to ITRI. The material “eventually converts into a bound inorganic porous structure, which effectively becomes a structure that has low thermal conductivity to insulate heat and good mechanical rigidity to maintain structural integrity,” the institute said in a release.
The formulation does not use conventional ignition-resistant additives that contain halogen, sulfur or phosphor components; thus, it generates no toxic gas when exposed to fire, ITRI says. Using polymers such as PU as the organic component, which is turned into water vapor and carbon dioxide when burned, produce much less smoke, the institute says
Testing and Commercialization
ITRI has applied for 45 patents for Reddex in nine countries and is currently licensing the technology. Reddex will be tested in the United States within one year, and ITRI expects coatings and material manufacturers to commercialize it globally within three years.
Founded in 1973, Taiwan-based ITRI is a nonprofit R&D organization engaging in applied research and technical services. The institute holds more than 14,571 patents and has assisted in creating more than 163 start-ups and spin-offs.
In the United States, ITRI has long-term collaborative arrangements with MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Stanford University. Globally, it has 23 international partnerships with major companies such as IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Motorola.
Fires in the United States killed one civilian every 175 minutes and injured one civilian every 31 minutes in 2009, the latest year for which statistics are available, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Those 1.3 million fires caused 3,010 civilian deaths; 17,050 civilian injuries; and about $12.5 billion in direct property loss.