What Makes Exterior Aluminium Composite Panels Fire-Retardant?
Aluminium composite panels (ACP) have become a popular choice for cladding exteriors due to their versatility, durability, and aesthetic appeal. However, safety concerns have arisen due to a few incidents involving fires that have spread quickly and caused extensive damage. In response, manufacturers have developed fire-retardant ACPs that provide an added level of safety for buildings. In this article, we will discuss what makes exterior aluminium composite panels fire-retardant.
ACP is a lightweight and rigid material that consists of two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a polyethylene core. The outer aluminium layer provides strength and durability, while the inner polyethylene layer provides insulation. These panels are easy to install and come in a range of colours and finishes, making them a popular choice for architects and builders.
The Fire Risk of Standard ACPs
Although standard ACPs are not highly combustible, they do pose a fire risk in certain situations. In the event of a fire, the polyethylene core can melt and drip, causing the fire to spread rapidly. Furthermore, the aluminium skin can provide the fire with a fuel source, leading to the fire's intensification. Therefore, it is essential to take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of fires caused by ACPs.
What Are Fire-Retardant ACPs?
Fire-retardant ACPs are designed to reduce the risk of fire spread and intensification. These panels undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they meet fire performance standards set by national regulatory bodies. Fire-retardant ACPs are made up of fire-resistant mineral core that is sandwiched between two aluminium panels. This core can withstand high temperatures for an extended period, limiting the spread of fire.
The Benefits of Using Fire-Retardant ACPs
Fire-retardant ACPs offer several benefits over standard ACPs. The primary benefit is increased safety. In the event of a fire, fire-retardant ACPs limit the spread of the fire, giving occupants more time to evacuate the building. Secondly, these panels are easy to install and require less maintenance than other materials. They are also durable, weather-resistant, and offer a range of design options. Thirdly, fire-retardant ACPs are environmentally friendly, made from sustainable materials that can be recycled at the end of their lifespan.
What Makes Fire-Retardant ACPs Fire-Resistant?
The fire-resistant core of fire-retardant ACPs is responsible for their ability to limit the spread of fire. This core is usually made from non-combustible minerals such as magnesium oxide, aluminium hydroxide, and calcium carbonate. These minerals are fused between the two aluminium panels to create a fire-resistant sandwich structure.
The ability of the mineral core to withstand heat and flames depends on its thickness and composition. The thicker the core, the better its fire performance will be. Similarly, the composition of the minerals used in the core affects the panel's resistance to fire. For example, panels made from magnesium oxide offer excellent fire resistance, while panels made from calcium carbonate are less effective.
Testing Standards for Fire-Retardant ACPs
International bodies such as ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and EN (European Norms) set fire safety standards for building materials. Fire-retardant ACPs must undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they meet these standards. These tests evaluate the panel's reaction to fire, smoke emission, and toxic gas emissions.
The main testing standards for fire-retardant ACPs are EN 13501, ASTM E84, and NFPA 285. EN 13501 evaluates fire performance, smoke emission, and flaming droplet production. ASTM E84 measures surface burning characteristics and flame spread. NFPA 285 evaluates the fire characteristics of exterior non-load-bearing wall assemblies.
Fire-retardant ACPs provide an added level of safety for buildings, reducing the risk of fire spread and intensification. These panels are made with a fire-resistant mineral core that can withstand high temperatures and limit the spread of fire. Fire-retardant ACPs undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they meet national fire safety standards. By using fire-retardant ACPs, builders and architects can create safer and more sustainable buildings while maintaining the aesthetic appeal of ACPs..