Green Fire Retardants for Structural Timber

Aims & Objectives

The overall aim of the project is to assess whether "green" fire retardants available for use on structural timber fulfil both the fire performance requirements and the necessary environmental credentials. As ongoing work progresses and our understanding of the concepts deepen, the specific objectives of the project may change.

Specfic aims of the project are best summarised as follows:

1) To identify the limitations of structural timber performance in fire
    An extensive literature review alongside research into recent timber-frame fires will enable identification of the main weaknesses of the use of structural timber
2) To ascertain whether the use of "green" fire retardants enable fulfilment of performance requirements determined for structural timber
    Any green fire retardants itentified will be tested according to industry standards to see if fire performance of structural timber can be improved to the necessary degree

3) To ascertain whether the "green" retardants' claimed environmental credentials are justified
    The green credentials of the retardant will come under scrutiny during a rigorous examination of environmental impact. VOCs, Toxicity and BREEAM ratings will all be part of a throrough environmental assessment


1) Research the context of timber-frame fires and substantiate the main issue
   Understand by means of investigation into timber-frame fires the extent of the problem and the most prevalent issues (eg. shear failure in joints)

2) Identify the fundamental parameter(s) undermining structural timber performance in fire
   Based on failures identified in the previous point, characteristics crucial to timber performance must be isolated (eg. flame spread rate)

3) Define the performance characteristic(s) which are essential for improving timber performance in fire 
   Once characteristics vital to timber performance in fire have been verified, one or more of these should be used specifically for targeting with retardants (eg. charring rate)

4) Identify the type of retardant that may be suitable for protection of structural timber in our given scenario
   Based on the performance characteristic to be improved, a retardant mechanism can be deemed suitable (ie. intumescent)

5) Identify any "green" retardants which potentially fulfil the fire performance requirements
   Once the suitable retardant mechanism has been identified (ie. intumescent) then "green" varients of this mechanism should be investigated

6) Define the requirements to be satisfied for a "green" retardant
   Looking into the problems with current retardants as well an environmental legislation, a clear definition of "green" should be given

7) Substantiate whether the "green" retardant meets the environmetal standards required
   Evaluate the retardant to see whether the "green" characteristics claimed are sufficient to match the "green" definition defined in the last point

8) Test the retardant to see if fire performance requirements are met
   Experimental testing according to industry standards can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of retardant application, and see if relevant critereon are satisfied (see Standards)

Another slightly more theoretical objective, although relevant nonetheless, is to compare the performance of the green retardant to
 the performance of the traditional retardant if sufficient data/time is available to allow a comparison.

Big results require big ambitions ~ James Champy