One of the most dangerous aspects of a fire is the toxic gases that can arise from the process of combustion.To save lives and develop safer materials for airplanes, trains, and buildings, it is vital to identify and measure the gases that are released when products and materials are burning.
The BASF Fire Technology Laboratoryin Ludwigshafen, Germany, conducts fire testing on materials to assess the fire behaviour and flammability of productsand to determine whether they meet the necessary performance criteria specified in a wide variety of testing standards and regulatory codes. During these tests, a small specimen of the material is ignited in a test chamber and the produced gases are collected by a heated sampling system.Toxicity analysis of these gases is then performed with an advanced FTIR gas analyzer. SuchFTIR toxicity test systems are supplied by Gasmet Ansyco, a company specialized in industrial FTIR gas analyzers.
The BASF laboratory is managed by Dr. Rolf Henn, who says: “FTIR is the method which was selected by the DIN and EN standardization work groups as the most reliable standard method for the quantification of toxic fire effluents, because it is capable of measuring all of the target gases across a wide concentration range. In most standards, this includes: CO, CO2, HCN, SO2, NOx, HCl, HFand HBr.Using Calcmet™ software, spectra can easily be analyzed and stored. Hence, any measurements can be reanalyzed retrospectively when necessary.”
Gas analysis is quick and easy to interpret with the Calcmet software
The BASF Fire Technology Laboratory is accredited to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 and provides a wide range of testing services for productsfrom both BASF and external organizations.
Many of the products that Dr Henn’s laboratory tests are in the process of development; so this work helps to determine whether materialsare suitable for production on a commercial scale. Theseproducts, including those from non-BASF organizations, are predominantly from the construction and rolling stock market sectors and include thermoplastics, thermosets, metal sheets, wood, flooring, wall and ceiling materials, varnishes and other products containing organic material.Test procedures are conducted according to relevant standards such as EN 45545-2 and DIN 5510-2 for rolling stock.
“The Gasmet FTIR analyzer was chosen for a number of reasons,” Dr Henn says. “It is robust and reliable, and operation is easy right from the start; even for beginners in spectroscopy. The red, yellow and green lights displayed by the Calcmet software for each respective gas component give operators a simple and immediate hint ofa possible mismatch in spectra analysis, so that they can follow up with, for example, manual adaptation of the spectral region used for determination of this specific toxic gas component.The Gasmet instrumenttherefore represents the optimal solution between fully automated data evaluation and manual IR spectrum assessment.
“Gasmet Ansyco provided a complete test system to meet our specific needs, including calibration of toxic gas components and interfering substances.Importantly, technical and service supportwas always prompt and delivered with a highlevel of expertise,” he adds.
Expressing his pleasure with the success of this application, Ansyco Managing Director Aappo Roos, says: “BASF employs Gasmet FTIR in a number of different process control and safety applications. Our firetesting systemexemplifies the advantages of this technology; with hot and humid smokeand often a highly aggressive gas mixture, the Gasmet FTIR has a proven ability to analyze a large number of different organic and inorganic gasessimultaneously.Robust, accurateand reliable analytical technology is clearly imperative in this vital work that protects both life and property.”
(Further information on the BASF Fire Testing Laboratory is available at www.plasticsportal.net/wa/plasticsEU~de_DE/portal/show/content/technical/Fire_technology_lab and the available test methods can be found at www.plasticsportal.net/wa/plasticsEU~de_DE/function/conversions:/publish/upload/technical/ReferenzListe_de.pdf)