Investigation of char strength and expansion properties of an intumescent coating exposed to rapid heating rates

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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


An efficient and space saving method for passive fire protection is the use of intumescent coatings, which swell when exposed to heat, forming an insulating char layer on top of the virgin coating. Although the temperature curves related to so-called cellulosic fires are often referred to as slow heating curves, special cases where the protective char is mechanically damaged and partly removed can cause extremely fast heating of the coating. This situation, for a solvent based intumescent coating, is simulated using direct insertion of free films into a muffle oven. The char formed is evaluated with respect to the mechanical resistance against compression, degree of expansion, and residual mass fraction. Experimental results show that when using this type of shock heating, the mechanical resistance of the char against compression cannot meaningfully be correlated to the expansion factor. In addition, char properties, measured at room temperature, were dependent on the preceding storage conditions (in air or in a desiccator). The char was found to have the highest mechanical strength against compression in the outer crust facing the heat source. For thin (147μm) free coating films, a tendency to contract in the horizontal plane was observed. The experimental approach is relevant for testing of intumescent coatings used in buildings where moving or falling objects may damage the char during a fire.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProgress in Organic Coatings
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1851-1857
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Intumescent coatings
  • Fire protection
  • Special fire scenario
  • Char strength
  • Free coating films

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