Project: Fire-Resistant FRP Insulation
School: Queen’s University
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Director: Mark Green
Mark Green, professor at Ontario-based Queen’s University, saw the need to increase fire resistance in infrastructure applications by using fiber-reinforced polymers (FRP). To find a solution, the university teamed with Isis Canada, a research network, and collaborated with the National Research Council’s (NRC) fire research program.
The consortium has focused mainly on FRPs in the areas of concrete repair and external insulation. “If a column is wrapped with FRP, the FRP provides an external insulation to the system,” says Green. This is important for two reasons: The insulation prevents the FRP itself from burning early in a fire and it gives the structure much higher strength in a fire than there would be without the material.
The group conducted testing with both columns and beams. “We took regular reinforced concrete columns and beams and sprayed the FRP insulation on the structure to strengthen them. We then put the columns and beams into a special chamber at NRC. The conditions in that chamber are designed to simulate exactly what you’d expect to happen to those structures when they’re exposed to fire,” says Green.
Green feels the process has yet to reach its full potential: “It could open up opportunities where there’s little infrastructure to start with so you have to rely on FRP as a strengthening situation as well. In situations such as fires, we need a better idea of exactly what its strength is under those conditions. If you’re looking at FRP for internal reinforcement, although the behavior is a bit different in terms of the products, they meet under different conditions.”