„Magic Material“ graphene against fire and smoke
At Hohenstein Institute for textile innovation in Bönnigheim near Stuttgart researchers experiment with a layer of graphene only an atomic diameter thin. This extremely wafer-thin coating produces a physical barrier that shields heat and gases. Within a European research project the scientists aim on making the heat resistance of this innovative wear-resistant coating useable for fire protection applications. Up to now graphene – compared to steel 200 times more resistant to abrasion and fracture – was hardly used in the textile sector.
“GRAFAT” is the German part of the EU-project. The Hohenstein researchers enter completely new territory by modifying the surface of textiles using graphene. “It is our aim to apply watery graphene dispersions permanently on different textiles”, project leader Dr. Bianca-Michaela Wölfling says. She claims that in 2017 a ready-made, extremely light weight protective equipment would be evidence for the industry that the material can comply with the high expectations in terms of fire protection.
Protech becomes increasingly important for textile applications
Nowadays, users from different sectors such as construction/ architecture, work safety or industrial fire protection can already rely on a wide range of textile protech products. Fibre based materials such as glass and aramid filaments or textile ceramics play an increasing role for fire protection on construction sites. A wide range of technical textiles and composite materials already exists: they are flame retardant, non-flammable at all, do not melt and are highly temperature resistant or hold back smoke.
„Contributing effectively to textile fire protection requires research and development expertise as well as interdisciplinary material research and textile technology knowledge all along the entire value-chain. Therefore fire protection is one of the most important subjects in the textile industry.”
Dr. Klaus Jansen, Managing Director of Forschungskuratorium Textil (FKT)
Melamine as non-woven and other fire resistant textiles
A heat resistant non-woven made of melamine which is produced single-stage using a cost-effective thermoplastic method, originates from the Thuringian Institute of Textile and Plastics Research in Rudolstadt. The material does not burn or melt. It is chemically stable and resilient to UV-light. Furthermore, it has excellent insulation properties – an ideal material for fire protection and its clothing as well as for heat and acoustic isolation.
In another research project at the ITM of TU Dresden high performance fibres are spun into heat resistant yarn and textile structures to produce fire curtains or flame retardant home textiles (e. g. upholstery fabrics). Another target for the scientists are space-enclosing, multifunctional prefabricated parts made of fibre reinforced mineral building composites.
Flame-resistant coatings with a high UV-resistance on a basis of nanoclays in polyurethane finishings and coatings are currently developed at the ITCF Denkendorf. Another important subject for the textile chemists in Denkendorf is fire protection free of formaldehyde and halogen, with the focus on phosphorous compounds.
A completely different approach to fire protection took the textile researchers in Aachen. The innovative firefighting garments developed at the ITA have a safety rope transmitting data with which the firefighters can communicate with each other in action.