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Researchers Create Fire-Resistant Tunnel Lining

Friday, February 28, 2020

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A research team from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia has recently announced the development of a fire-resistant concrete tunnel lining prototype.

The team was led by Associate Professor Roszilah Hamid and included members from the faculty’s Smart and Sustainable Township Research Centre (SUTRA) and the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (FKAB).

About the Prototype

According to New Straits Times, the research team created the concrete mix using 52.5% fly ash and nano silica.

To test the material, an experimental setup of two tunnel rings were constructed to scale—through an agreement with SPC Industries Sdn Bhd and the Fire Research Centre (Puspek) of the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia—with one using the UKM-produced concrete mix lining and the other using traditional tunnel lining used in current construction practices.

“A study by Germany’s Federal Highway Research Institute reported that a vehicle’s fire temperature in a tunnel can rise dramatically to 1,200 degrees Celsius in just five minutes and could last for 30 minutes if not extinguished,” said the chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at UKM’s Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment.

While testing the material, the team found that the UKM concrete mixture could produce fire resistant concrete up to 700 degrees Celsius.

Hamid adds that during the testing, “The temperature of 1,200 degrees Celsius was reached within five minutes and after 30 minutes, the fire was extinguished. The results showed that the ring with the UKM patented concrete segment did not suffer from debris and the concrete cover and reinforcement surfaces were not exposed to fire.”

“Meanwwhile, the other tunnel segment was severely damaged to reveal the reinforcement. This study shows that patented concrete mixture have been able to withstand the heavy heat of tunnel fire temperatures and should be used as a passive protective material for tunnel walls.”

The project was funded using the Education Ministry’s Fundamental Research Grant Scheme. However, the team has since applied for funding under a Prototype Development Research Grant as to begin pre-commercialization efforts for the prototype.

“Our intention was to produce a tunnel segment prototype using the patented concrete mix and test fire resistance at the actual temperature of the tunnel fire,” said Hamid.

Other Fire Protective Coatings Research

In 2016, Finnish firm Finnester Coatings released HybridRED, an industrial coating that claimed to protect train and subway cars from fire and smoke damage. The coating also conformed to EU standards for fire safety and was certified by Finland’s VTT Expert Services to comply with EN 45545-2 Hazard Level 3 standards.

The following year, researchers based out of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, working in conjunction with national industrial developer JTC, reported that they had produced a fire-resistant coating that doubles as corrosion protection and requires a less intensive application process than more traditional alternatives.

With the ability to function aesthetically like normal paint, FiroShield is a three-in-one system that can be applied to bare steel without prior sandblasting. The coating meets the two-hour window that allows for those in a building to evacuate in case there is a fire, and the same functionality has been tested on reinforced concrete and laminated timber.

In the spring of 2018, researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China developed a fire-retardant construction material capable of resisting flames, even those produced by some of the hottest-burning materials.

Led by Professor Yu Shuhong, the team created a composite aerogel with low thermal conductivity and reportedly substantial fire resistance, according to the university. The composite was synthesized from phenol-formaldehyde-resin and silica, enabling it to resist flames of up to 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit.

And last year, Texas A&M University-based researchers reported that they were developing a new flame-retardant coating using renewable, nontoxic materials that are readily found in nature.

Department of mechanical engineering professor Jaime Grunlan led the research (partnered with researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, led by Lars Wagberg), which was recently published in Advanced Materials Interfaces, and says that successful development and implementation of the coating could provide better fire protection to different kinds of materials.


Tagged categories: AS; Asia Pacific; Coating Materials; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Colleges and Universities; concrete; Infrastructure; Linings; Research; Research and development; Tunnel

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