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Interview: Rolf Albach, Covestro

Rolf Albach, Covestro Germany, explained the importance of demanding fire safety standards for rigid foam building materials. Rigid polyurethane (PUR, PIR) and polycarbonate foams are increasingly used in building interiors, claddings, roofing and under-floor, to provide best-class thermal insulation, enabling important energy savings in both heating and air conditioning.

Because they are structural, they enable optimal building design: for example on flat roofs they can be walked upon, allowing installation of photovoltaic and other technical installations. To ensure safety, fire standards for construction foams in buildings should require fire resistance both when the foam is behind protective materials (e.g. plasterboard) and also when foam is exposed, because of risk of ignition during storage or installation or when protection is holed during building modifications. Mr Albach considers that liquid form, gas-phase acting PIN flame retardants need to be developed for these construction foams, to replace halogenated FRs whose use is being questioned. Such FRs can act in synergy with polyurethane, melamine and additives to provide charring and to reduce smoke emissions.

Covestro, www.covestro.com is a world leading polymer manufacturer, offering a range of application solutions. The company has 30 sites in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Covestro produces polyurethane (PUR), polyisocyanurate (PIR) and polycarboxylate rigid foams, as well as flexible foams for furniture and bedding.