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Fire-Resistant Reinforcement Makes Steel Structures Sturdier

Issue: 2006 Category: Public Safety Category Icon - Public Safety
Page: 32 Center: Ames Research Center
State: TX Manufacturer: International Paint LLC
Origin: Materials for Apollo Heat Shield
Tech Terms: Apollo, Heat Shield, Fire, Steel, Coating, Corrosion, Construction
Built and designed by Avco Corporation, the Apollo heat shield was coated with an ablative material whose purpose was to burn and, thus, dissipate energy. The burned material charred to form a protective coating which blocked heat penetration beyond the outer surface. Avco Corporation subsequently entered into a contract with Ames Research Center to develop spinoff applications of the heat shield in the arena of fire protection, specifically for the development of fire-retardant paints and foams for aircraft. This experience led to the production of Chartek 59, manufactured by Avco Specialty Materials (a subsidiary of Avco Corporation eventually acquired by Textron, Inc.) and marketed as the world's first intumescent epoxy material. As an intumescent coating, Chartek 59 expanded in volume when exposed to heat or flames and acted as an insulating barrier. It also retained its space-age ablative properties and dissipated heat through burn-off. In 1999, Houston-based International Paint, LLC, acquired the Chartek fireproofing brand. The company's latest product derived from Chartek technology is coined Interchar and geared toward making America's high-rise buildings and public structures safer. Interchar swells to provide a tough and stable insulating layer over the steel to protect it. An Interchar coating is typically applied at a thickness between 1 and 8 millimeters, so it does not impact the overall shape of the steel. Because this is a thin layering process, architects and building planners can still explore intricate and innovate architectural designs, especially when the steel is exposed. Interchar offers fast cure times, superior adhesion to steel surfaces, and a strong, durable barrier to the steel beam underneath. Altogether, these attributes provide up to 4 hours of fire protection and help prevent steel infrastructures from collapsing prematurely, in turn, giving building occupants more time to evacuate safely.
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