Is ACP Cladding Flammable?
Architectural composite panels (ACP) are becoming increasingly popular these days. ACP cladding is an innovative material that has been extensively used in the construction industry. They are composed of two aluminum sheets that are bonded with a core made of polyethylene or mineral-filled fire retardant polymer. ACP cladding is renowned for its strength, durability, and versatility.
However, the recent events at Grenfell Tower in London and other incidents have raised alarm bells concerning the safety of ACP cladding. Several experts have raised concerns about the flammability of the material. The question on many people’s minds is, “Is ACP cladding flammable?” In this article, we will answer this question comprehensively.
What is ACP Cladding?
But to answer the question of whether ACP is cladding, we first need to understand what ACP cladding is. As earlier mentioned, ACP cladding is a composite material made of two aluminum sheets sandwiched between a mineral-filled fire retardant polymer core or polyethylene core. These sheets are coated with a resin-based paint system that protects both the surface and the core. The result is an ultra-thin, lightweight, durable, and attractive material that can be utilized in a variety of ways.
What makes ACP Cladding so Attractive?
ACP cladding is an attractive material that is used in both commercial and residential buildings. Its advantages include:
1. Aesthetics – ACP cladding comes in a wide range of colors, patterns, and finishes, giving architects and designers the freedom to create unique designs.
2. Durability – ACP cladding is highly resistant to corrosion, weathering, and impact, making it ideal for use in harsh environments.
3. Lightweight – ACP cladding is significantly lighter than solid aluminum sheets or steel sheets, making it easier to install.
4. Economical – ACP cladding is a cost-effective solution for creating a modern, stylish, and attractive façade.
5. Fire Resistance – ACP cladding is designed to be fire retardant, making it a safer choice for building construction.
Is ACP Cladding Flammable?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not straightforward. In general, ACP cladding is not flammable. The aluminum sheets used to produce ACP cladding are inflammable, and the core of the panel is fire retardant mineral-filled polymer or polyethylene. However, there is always the risk that the core can ignite if exposed to high temperatures.
A recent test by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) found that the aluminum composite panel did not meet the safety standards required for the Class 0 fire rating. The test was carried out on a system comprising of aluminum composite panels, insulation, and a fire barrier. In this test, the insulation behind the panel overheated and reached ignition point.
Another study by the University of Central Lancashire found that ACPs carrying a fire retardant mineral-filled polymer core have reduced fire propagation rates and smoke toxicity, compared to polyethylene cores.
Therefore, we can say that the flammability of ACP cladding depends on the core material. Panels with a fire-retardant mineral-filled polymer core are less flammable than those with a polyethylene core. It is also crucial to note that ACP cladding systems are not fire-resistant, but fire retardant. This means that they will deteriorate and lose strength when exposed to fire for an extended period, and they will eventually break, exposing the building to the fire.
What is being done to Address the Risk?
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, there has been an increased focus on the safety of ACP cladding. Authorities have raised concerns about the use of ACP cladding in high-rise buildings and have outlined procedures for testing buildings to identify any unsafe cladding. Governments have also taken the initiative to ban the use of ACP cladding in high-risk buildings.
In conclusion, ACP cladding is not flammable, but it can pose a risk under certain conditions. The core material used to make the composite panels dictates the flammability properties of ACP cladding. If you plan to use ACP cladding in your building, it is crucial to ensure that the panels you use meet the appropriate safety and building standards. Governments and safety authorities are also taking steps to address the risks associated with ACP cladding to ensure the safety of buildings and their occupants..