Section: Grenfell Tower

Study reveals that Grenfell Tower panels were 55 times more flammable than least combustible materials

Posted 22.01.19
UCLan: Article link

The first in-depth study of the cladding and insulation used on Grenfell Tower has uncovered significant differences in flammability and smoke toxicity between the products used and least combustible products available, helping to explain the rapid spread of flames within the tower's facade.

Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) showed that that the polyethylene-filled aluminium composite material (ACM) panels used on the tower were 55 times more flammable than the least flammable panels tested.

Smoke released when burning polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation was also found to be 15 times more toxic than current fire-safe insulation products, with just 1kg of burning PIR insulation being sufficient to fill a medium-sized room with an incapacitating and ultimately lethal mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide gas.

Published in the Journal for Hazardous Materials, the research found that the combination of ACM panels and PIR insulation resulted in the highest flammability and smoke toxicity of products currently available.

Used together, the ACM forced rapid ignition of the toxic foam. Just a few burning drips of polyethylene from the ACM panelling would be enough to ignite the foam insulation, which could provide a new explanation for the very rapid spread of flames within the tower's facade.

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Reporting on January 2019

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