Fire Performance of Electric Cables

Often one of the best flame retardant cables are halogenated as a result of both the insulation and outer Jacket are flame retardant but when we need Halogen Free cables we discover it is typically solely the outer jacket which is flame retardant and the inside insulation isn’t.
This has significance as a end result of whereas cables with a flame retardant outer jacket will often pass flame retardance exams with external flame, the same cables when subjected to excessive overload or extended brief circuits have proved in college exams to be extremely flammable and might even begin a fire. This effect is thought and printed (8th International Conference on Insulated Power Cables (Jicable’11 – June 2011) held in Versailles, France) so it’s perhaps stunning that there are not any common take a look at protocols for this seemingly widespread event and one cited by both authorities and media as reason for constructing fires.
Further, in Flame Retardant check strategies similar to IEC60332 components 1 & three which make use of an exterior flame supply, the cable samples usually are not pre-conditioned to normal working temperature however examined at room temperature. This oversight is essential particularly for energy circuits as a outcome of the temperature index of the cable (the temperature at which the cable materials will self-support combustion in regular air) might be significantly affected by its starting temperature i.e.: The hotter the cable is, the extra simply it will propagate fireplace.
It would seem that a need exists to re-evaluate current cable flame retardance test strategies as these are commonly understood by consultants and customers alike to offer a reliable indication of a cables ability to retard the propagation of fire.
If we can’t belief the Standards what can we do?

In the USA many building standards don’t require halogen free cables. Certainly this isn’t as a end result of Americans are not correctly informed of the risks; somewhat the strategy taken is that: “It is best to have extremely flame retardant cables which do not propagate fireplace than minimally flame retardant cables which may unfold a fire” – (a small hearth with some halogen may be better than a big hearth with out halogens). One of the best ways to make a cable insulation and cable jacket extremely flame retardant is by utilizing halogens.
Europe and many nations all over the world undertake a unique mentality: Halogen Free and Flame Retardant. Whilst that is an admirable mandate the reality is rather completely different: Flame propagation tests for cables as adopted in UK and Europe can arguably be said to be less stringent than a few of the flame propagation checks for cables in USA leading to the conclusion that common exams in UK and Europe could merely be exams the cables can cross quite than exams the cables ought to pass.

For most versatile polymeric cables the choice remains at present between excessive flame propagation performance with halogens or reduced flame propagation performance with out halogens.
Enclosing cables in metal conduit will reduce propagation on the point of fireplace however hydrocarbon primarily based combustion gasses from decomposing polymers are likely propagate via the conduits to switchboards, distribution boards and junction bins in different components of the constructing. Any spark such as the opening or closing of circuit breakers, or contactors is likely to ignite the flamable gasses leading to explosion and spreading the fire to another location.
While MICC (Mineral Insulated Metal Sheathed) cables would supply an answer, there’s usually no singe excellent reply for each installation so designers need to evaluate the required performance on a “project-by-project” foundation to decide which technology is optimal.
The major importance of fire load

Inside all buildings and projects electrical cables present the connectivity which retains lights on, air-conditioning working and the lifts working. It powers computers, workplace gear and provides the connection for our phone and computers. Even our cellphones need to connect with wireless or GSM antennas which are connected to the telecom network by fiber optic or copper cables. Cables guarantee our safety by connecting

fireplace alarms, emergency voice communication, CCTV, smoke shutters, air pressurization followers, emergency lighting, hearth sprinkler pumps, smoke and heat detectors, and so many different features of a contemporary Building Management System.
Where public security is essential we often request cables to have added security features such as flame retardance to ensure the cables don’t easily unfold fire, circuit integrity throughout fireplace in order that essential fire-fighting and life safety gear hold working. Sometimes we could acknowledge that the combustion of electric cables produces smoke and this can be toxic so we name for cables to be Low Smoke and Halogen Free. Logically and intuitively we expect that by requesting these particular properties the cables we purchase and set up might be safer

Because cables are installed by many various trades for various purposes and are mostly hidden or embedded in our constructions, what is often not realized is that the many miles of cables and tons of plastic polymers which make up the cables can characterize one of the largest hearth masses within the building. This level is definitely value considering extra about.
PVC, XLPE, EPR, CSP, LSOH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen) and even HFFR (Halogen Free Flame Retardant) cable materials are largely primarily based on hydrocarbon polymers. These base supplies usually are not generally flame retardant and naturally have a high hearth load. Cable producers make them flame retardant by including compounds and chemicals. Certainly this improves the volatility of burning however the gasoline content of the bottom polymers remains.
Tables 1 and a couple of above compare the fire load in MJ/Kg for common cable insulating materials towards some common fuels. The Heat Release Rate and volatility in air for these supplies will differ but the fuel added to a fireplace per kilogram and the consequential volume of warmth generated and oxygen consumed is relative.
The volume in kilometers and tons of cables put in in our buildings and the associated fire load of the insulations is appreciable. This is particularly important in tasks with lengthy egress occasions like excessive rise, public buildings, tunnels and underground environments, airports, hospitals and so on.
When contemplating fireplace safety we must first understand the most important components. Fire experts tell us most fireplace related deaths in buildings are attributable to smoke inhalation, temperature rise and oxygen depletion or by trauma brought on by jumping in trying to escape these effects.

The first and most essential aspect of smoke is how a lot smoke? Typically the larger the fire the extra smoke is generated so anything we will do to scale back the spread of fireside may also correspondingly scale back the amount of smoke.
Smoke will include particulates of carbon, ash and other solids, liquids and gasses, many are poisonous and combustible. In explicit, fires in confined areas like buildings, tunnels and underground environments trigger oxygen ranges to drop, this contributes to incomplete burning and smoldering which produces increased amounts of smoke and toxic byproducts together with CO and CO2. Presence of halogenated supplies will release toxic Halides like Hydrogen Chloride along with many other toxic and flammable gasses in the smoke.
For this reason widespread smoke exams carried out on cable insulation materials in massive three meter3 chambers with loads of air can provide deceptive smoke figures as a result of full burning will often release significantly much less smoke than partial incomplete burning which is probably going in practice. Simply specifying IEC 61034 with a defined obscuration worth then considering it will provide a low smoke setting throughout fire might sadly be little of assist for the individuals actually concerned.
Halogens, Toxicity, Fuel Element, Oxygen Depletion and Temperature Rise

It is regarding that Europe and other nations adopt the concept of halogen free materials without properly addressing the topic of toxicity. Halogens released throughout combustion are extraordinarily toxic however so too is carbon monoxide and this is not a halogen fuel. It is common to name for halogen free cables after which enable using Polyethylene as a end result of it’s halogen free. Burning Polyethylene (which can be seen from the desk above has the very best MJ gasoline load per Kg of all insulations) will generate virtually three instances more warmth than an equivalent PVC cable. diaphragm seal is that burning polyethylene won’t only generate almost three times extra heat but in addition consume nearly 3 occasions more oxygen and produce significantly extra carbon monoxide. Given carbon monoxide is liable for most toxicity deaths in fires this example is at finest alarming!

The gasoline components shown in the desk above point out the quantity of heat which will be generated by burning 1kg of the frequent cable insulations tabled. Certainly this warmth will accelerate the burning of different adjoining materials and should help unfold the hearth in a building but importantly, in order to generate the warmth power, oxygen must be consumed. The higher the warmth of combustion the extra oxygen is needed, so by selecting insulations with high gas elements is including considerably to no less than four of the first dangers of fires: Temperature Rise, Oxygen Depletion, Flame Spread and Carbon Monoxide Release.
Perhaps it’s best to put in polymeric cables inside metal conduits. This will definitely help flame unfold and decrease smoke because contained in the conduit oxygen is proscribed; however this is not a solution. As said previously, lots of the gasses from the decomposing polymeric insulations contained in the conduits are highly flammable and toxic. These gases will migrate alongside the conduits to junction bins, swap panels, distribution boards, motor management centers, lamps, switches, and so forth. On entering the gases can ignite or explode with any arcing such because the make/break of a circuit breaker, contactor, switch or relay inflicting the fireplace to spread to another location.

The reputation of “Halogen Free” whereas ignoring the opposite toxic parts of fire is a clear admission we don’t perceive the subject properly nor can we easily define the hazards of combined poisonous components or human physiological response to them. It is necessary however, that we don’t continue to design with solely half an understanding of the problem. While no perfect answer exists for organic primarily based cables, we will actually decrease these critically necessary effects of fireplace danger:
One possibility perhaps to choose on cable insulations and jacket materials which are halogen free and have a low fuel component, then set up them in steel conduit or possibly the American method is best: to make use of extremely halogenated insulations so that in case of fireside any flame spread is minimized.
For most power, control, communication and knowledge circuits there’s one full answer obtainable for all the problems raised on this paper. It is a solution which has been used reliably for over eighty years. MICC cables can present a complete and full reply to all the problems associated with the fireplace safety of natural polymer cables.
The copper jacket, magnesium oxide insulation and copper conductors of MICC ensure the cable is successfully hearth proof. MICC cables have no natural content so simply can’t propagate flame or generate any smoke. The zero fuel load ensures no heat is added and no oxygen is consumed.
Being inorganic MICC cables can’t generate any halogen or toxic gasses at all including CO.
Unfortunately many common cable hearth test strategies used today may inadvertently mislead folks into believing the polymeric flexible cable merchandise they purchase and use will perform as expected in all fire conditions. As outlined on this paper, sadly this is probably not correct.
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