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Cement, Flame Retardants, and Asbestos

Fireproofing is an important aspect of protecting buildings against the consequences of an accident. There are several different methods of fireproofing, including non-flammability solutions, flame retardants, and cementitious materials. However, when it comes to cementitious materials, there are some things that you should be aware of before choosing one for your building. In acusfoc.com, we explore the three main types of fireproofing materials: cementitious, flame retardants, and asbestos.

Cementitious fireproofing

A cementitious fireproofing system is a type of fire-resistance coating applied to a building’s exterior. Often made of Portland cement, this product is applied in a spray process, providing 1-4 hours of fire protection for structural steel and concrete. Moreover, it serves as an efficient thermal barrier over polyurethane foam, which is usually used for insulation and soundproofing. Some of these applications include pharmaceutical facilities, pulp and paper mills, nuclear power plants, and stadiums.

The main advantage of lightweight cementitious fireproofing is that the material is relatively cheap, and its application is faster and easier than that of dense concrete. While lightweight cementitious is cheaper than dense concrete, it retains the cost of labor and structural steel, which is the case with traditional dense concrete. It also requires a multi-layer application process and is prone to cracking.

Flame retardants

Flame retardants are a class of chemical agents used to improve the fire safety properties of fabrics and other materials. Flame retardants have two distinct mechanisms – chemical and physical – and may be used in conjunction. Standards are developed for these substances to prevent fires and minimise loss. Flame retardants are applied to products in order to prevent them from igniting and preventing the spread of fire at different stages of combustion. These chemicals have a number of different effects and have been studied to determine their impact on the acoustic and thermophysical properties of textiles and other materials.

The use of synthetic materials has increased fire safety concerns. Fire-safety concerns have been associated with the widespread use of plastics in the mid-20th century. Plastics are inherently flammable, but flame retardants are a common solution. Flame retardants slow the spread of fire by blocking the re-ignition of the material and its surroundings. Most commonly, halogen-based FRs are used in hard plastics.

Asbestos

During its time, asbestos was widely used in a variety of applications, but it has since been linked to deadly diseases. The group of naturally occurring silicate minerals, known as asbestos, consists of glass-like fibers, which are composed of both chrysotile and amphibole varieties. Asbestos is found throughout the world, and the two primary types are chrysotile and amphibole. The latter is the most commonly used naturally and was widely used in fireproofing applications.

Asbestos was traditionally used with cement and as a fireproofing agent in products. It was also used in pressed sheets and sprayed into buildings. The material was widely used in aerodynamics and continues to be used in re-entry vehicles and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Asbestos was a popular material for the construction industry, but its harmful effects led to restrictions on its use.