Fire performance of plasterboard-insulation assemblies based on closed-cell charring insulation materials

Juan Hidalgo-Medina, Jose Torero-Cullen, Stephen Welch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper presents an experimental study on the fire performance of plastic charring insulation materials, represented by rigid closed-cell polyisocyanurate (PIR) and phenolic (PF) foams, when covered by a plasterboard lining. The assemblies were instrumented with thermocouples and the plasterboard facing was subjected to constant levels of irradiation of 15, 25, and 65 kW∙m-2 using the Heat-Transfer Rate Inducing System. These experiments serve as (1) an extrapolation to a larger scale of the fire behaviour from charring closed-cell insulation materials studied at the material scale, and (2) a characterisation of the fire hazards that these systems pose in building construction. The manifestation of the hazards occurred via initial pyrolysis reactions and release of volatiles followed by various complex behaviours including oxidation of the char residue (smouldering), cracking and expansion of the polymer. Gas phase conditions may support ignition of the volatiles, sustained burning and ultimately spread of the flame through the unexposed face of the insulation. The results presented herein are used to validate the insulation ‘critical temperature’ concept used for a performance-based methodology focused on the design/selection of suitable thermal barriers for flammable insulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 14th International Conference and Exhibition on Fire Science and Engineering (Interflam 2016)
PublisherInterscience Communications Ltd
Number of pages1518
ISBN (Print)978-0-9933933-3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event14th International Fire Science & Engineering Conferencec (Interflam 2016) - Royal Holloway College, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Jul 20166 Jul 2016


Conference14th International Fire Science & Engineering Conferencec (Interflam 2016)
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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