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Bioresin prepreg meets the stringent rail fire standard

Composites Evolution’s Evopreg PFC502 prepreg has recently completed an extensive series of tests to demonstrate compliance with the Hazard Level 3 (HL3) requirements of rail industry fire standard EN45545-2.

The Evopreg PFC502 prepreg passed stringent fire standard tests.One of the first commercial examples of the PFA-based fire-resistant bioresin prepreg is a lightweight rail passenger seat support.

Evopreg PFC502 prepregs are a range of fire-retardant pre-impregnated composite materials based on a polyfurfuryl alcohol (PFA) bioresin. PFA is a thermosetting bioresin derived from crop waste. It is similar to phenolic resin but with lower toxicity and VOC emissions. In addition to its environmental credentials, it has outstanding fire-retardant properties, plus excellent temperature and chemical resistance. Evopreg PFC502 prepregs can be used to produce a wide range of interior components including wall and ceiling panels, seats, tables and vestibule areas.

HL3 represents the most stringent requirement of EN45545-2, allowing materials to be used on trains that pass through tunnels where no side evacuation is possible, such as in many underground metro systems. The EN45545-2 testing was performed by Element Materials Technology against Requirement Sets R1 (interior surfaces) and R6 (passenger seat shells). The testing included heat release to ISO 5660-1, lateral flame spread to EN 5658-2 and smoke density and toxicity to EN ISO 5659-2. Both glass and carbon-reinforced PFA laminates were tested and both met the HL3 requirement.

Evopreg PFC502 prepregs can be supplied with a wide range of reinforcement fibers and fabric constructions. They can be consolidated by vacuum bagging, press molding or autoclave and are designed for applications including rail interiors, aircraft interiors, marine, offshore and construction.

Brendon Weager, Composites Evolution’s Technical Director commented: “We’re greatly encouraged by this set of test results. We had already performed extensive testing to demonstrate compliance against the fire requirements of aircraft passenger interiors, so we were confident of achieving a good level of performance. However, we now have the hard data to demonstrate our materials can also meet the demands of the rail sector whilst enabling new composite design possibilities.”

A lightweight rail passenger seat support manufactured from the fire-resistant bioresin prepreg has been nominated as a finalist in the Land Transportation Category of the 2019 JEC World Awards. The seat support was designed and manufactured by Bercella using materials supplied by Composites Evolution. Extensive testing of the structure was performed by Element Materials Technology.

A key innovation of the component is the use of Composites Evolution’s Evopreg PFC prepreg. Evopreg PFC was specified for this application because of its excellent fire performance, low toxicity and outstanding environmental credentials. The base resin is 100% bio-derived, thereby providing a safer and more sustainable alternative to traditional phenolics for equivalent cost and performance.

The seat support, which is one meter long but weighs less than 5 kg, has passed a wide range of tests including static loadings and fatigue cycling. It has also met the most stringent requirement, Hazard Level (HL) 3, of rail fire standard EN 45545.

Gareth Davies, Composites Evolution’s Commercial Manager commented: “The team are honored to have their work acknowledged by these prestigious awards. The seat component represents the culmination of a two-year development program by the partners and we’re delighted with the outcome. We’re particularly pleased with how well Evopreg PFC has performed in both the structural testing and fire testing.”

The award winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony during the JEC World exhibition in Paris on the 13th March 2019. Composites Evolution will be exhibiting at the show on stand S50 in Hall 6.

» Publication Date: 21/02/2019

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This project has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° [605658].

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