Researchers Develop Transparent Coating for Fire-Proofing Wood

Due to its lower cost and faster construction capabilities, mass engineered timbers have continued to gain popularity. If the timber is harvest from sustainably managed forests, it also has a lower carbon footprint when compared to steel or concrete buildings.

Currently, to protect the interior of wooden buildings from fire requires fire retardant panels such as gypsum and magnesia boards, or the timbers must be coated with a paint-like, fire-retardant coating.

That is changing thanks to the new coating developed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, which allow the timbers to remain exposed, while still providing a flame barrier when ‘activated’ by fire. Led by associated Professor Aravind Dasari, NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering has developed this transparent fireproof coating which is 0.075mm thick.

When the coating is heated, a series of complex chemical reactions occur, causing the coating to become a char that expands to over 30 times its original thickness and in turn prevents the fire from combusting the wood underneath. The exact composition of the coating remains a secret, but the NTU teams says that there are several applications methods that can be used to apply the barrier, which needs about one day to cure.

The team is currently in licensing negotiations with several different companies, including Venturer Timberwork, which is exploring the coating to protect the mass engineered timber elements in one of its projects.

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