Engineering model for intumescent coating behavior in a pilot-scale gas-fired furnace

Kristian Petersen Nørgaard, Kim Dam-Johansen, Pere Català, Søren Kiil

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In the event of a fire, intumescent fire protective coatings expand and form a thermally insulating char that protects the underlying substrate from heat and subsequent structural failure. The intumescence includes several rate phenomena, which have been investigated and quantified in the literature for several decades. However, various challenges still exist. The most important one concerns mathematical model validation under realistic exposure conditions and/or time scales. Another is the simplification of advanced models to overcome the often-seen lack of a complete set of input and adjustable model parameters for a given coating, thereby providing models for industrial applications. In this work, these two challenges are addressed. Three experimental series, with an intumescent coating inside a 0.65 m3 gas-fired furnace, heating up according to so-called cellulosic fire conditions, were conducted and a very good repeatability was evident. The experiments were run for almost three hours, reaching a final gas temperature of about 1100 °C. Measurements include transient temperature developments inside the expanding char, at the steel substrate, and in the mineral wool insulation placed behind the substrate. A mathematical model, describing the intumescent coating behavior and temperatures in the furnace using a single overall reaction was developed and validated against experimental data. By including a decomposition front movement through the char, a good qualitative agreement was obtained. After further validation against experiments with other coating formulations, it has potential to become a practical engineering tool. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAIChE Journal
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)3947–3962
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Intumescent coatings
  • Modeling
  • Fire tests
  • Intumescent model validation

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