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Resource Efficiency

The Safe City

High rises will dominate the skyline of the city of tomorrow. And as the height of these buildings grows, so will the fire-safety requirements. Solutions from Evonik will make high-rise living safer.

Architects are developing radically new ideas for the high rises of the future. Demand is high for smart concepts for urban living that preserve land and resources and that will meet the needs of tomorrow. The focus of these concepts is always on safety. While fires do not break out in high rises any more often than they do in other buildings, they spread much faster there.

It follows that the materials used for building high rises must meet special safety requirements—and CALOSTAT® high-performance insulation materials from Evonik do just that. Based on silicon dioxide, these products are non-combustible even when no flame retardants are added. They are also non-toxic, recyclable, and can be used in all insulated areas of the building envelope: the interior, exterior, roof, facades, and even the ceilings of basements and underground parking structures.

Fire-resistant window panes and fire doors are critical tools for preventing flames and smoke from spreading. Fire-safety glass consists of a transparent alkali-silicate gel sandwiched between two panes of glass. When fire breaks out, the resulting heat causes the gel to evaporate, resulting in a solid foam that forms a barrier not only to flames and smoke, but also to heat. For glass manufacturers, Evonik offers AERODISP®, a ready-to-use dispersion for designing windows that are thinner and thus lighter. That does more than just make the windows easier to handle—reduced weight also means that builders can build higher.

Cable flame protection for bus and train

The Institute for Loss Prevention and Research (Institut für Schadenverhütung und Schadenforschung) maintains statistics on the causes of fires, and these show that one in three fires investigated in Germany is caused by electricity. Not only can cable defects spark a fire—they can also accelerate the spread of a fire from one room to the next. That can be prevented with fireproof cables, which have sheaths made from materials like high-performance VESTAMID® polymer, to which halogen- and phosphorus-free flame retardants are added. These slow the development of flames and, when a fire does break out, they minimize the formation of dense smoke and dangerous gases. The cables also meet the toughest standards, making them suitable not only in high rises, but also in other safety-critical areas such as railway tunnels.

When incorporated in plastics, flame retardants can significantly reduce the risk of fire. They do have disadvantages, however: they modify the characteristics of the polymer, often sacrificing desirable mechanical or electrical properties. Additives based on organically modified siloxanes, which Evonik sells under the brand names Tegomer and Tegopren, can counteract that—and even play a role in meeting other requirements, such as keeping smoke and heat formation low when fires break out. This, in turn, extends the time potentially available for escaping the building when a fire actually occurs.