Innovation in the face of fire

Wednesday, 23 June, 2004


The Cooperative Research Centre for Polymers (CRC-P) has won a CRC innovation award for the development and commercialisation of a polymer cable that will change fire protection around the world.

Professor Robert Burford and Dr Jaleh Mansouri, from the School of Chemical Engineering and Industrial Chemistry, represent UNSW on the CRC-P (other members for the Olex project are Monash University, Department of Defence, Science and Technology (DSTO) and CSIRO-MIT). Commercial partner Olex Cables has used the technology to produce the polymer cable, Pyrolex Ceramifiable.

The CRC Association presented three Awards for Excellence in Innovation across 72 CRCs from the largest field of applicants to date. The awards recognise outstanding examples of the use and uptake of CRC research results, knowledge and technologies.

The cable uses breakthrough technology that enables special plastic materials to transform into ceramics under heat and act as a fire barrier. Consequently, electric systems within buildings would be able to continue functioning during fires because the materials, known as ceramifying polymers, don't shrink or crack from prolonged exposure to fire. The technology was initially developed for use in coatings for fire-performance cables but now has wider application.

"The technology developed by our team is now being used as a cost-effective way of using high fire performance cables in various configurations and sizes," Professor Burford said.

Awards were also presented to the CRC for Mining and the CRC for Cast Metals Manufacturing by the Minister for Science, Peter McGauran, as part of the CRC Association's Annual Conference in Adelaide.

The same team was also awarded a CRC for Polymers Chairman's Award in March this year for its successful commercialisation of the polymer cable.

Item provided courtesy of UNSW

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