Fire performance of sandwich panels in a modified ISO 13784-1 small room test: the influence of increased fire load for different insulation materials

Robert J. Crewe, Juan P. Hidalgo, Martin Sørensen, Shirley Molyneux, Martyn McLaggan, Grunde Jomaas, Stephen Welch, Anna A. Stec, T Richard Hull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four sandwich panel rooms were constructed as prescribed in the ISO 13784-1 test. However, the construction followed normal industry practice, and the panels were then subjected to the kinds of damage typically found in commercial premises, although such damage may not typically be concentrated in such a small room. The fire load was increased to simulate fires actually occurring in commercial premises by stepping up the propane burner output from 300 kW to 600 kW, and by placing a substantial wooden crib in two of the rooms. The results showed significant differences in fire growth rate and burning behaviour between those panels filled with polyisocyanurate (PIR) and those filled with stone wool in both the experiments without and with the wood crib. Most significantly, the PIR pyrolysis products caused ignition (by radiation from above) of the wood crib 1 minute after the burner was stepped up to 300 kW (11 minutes into the test) rather than 2 minutes after the burner had been stepped up to 600 kW (22 minutes into the test) for the stone wool panels. This interaction between building and contents does not form part of many recognized assessments of fire safety. After a few minutes, the PIR pyrolysis products that escaped outside the room, from between the panels, ignited. The extra thermal exposure from PIR fuelled flames distorted the panels, which in turn exposed more PIR, resulting in large flames on both the inside and outside of the enclosure. From a fire safety perspective this is most important as it shows that with larger fire loads typical of those found in commercial premises, steel-faced PIR filled panels are not capable of acting as fire barriers, and support flame spread through compartment walls and ceilings. In addition, the PIR panelled rooms produced very large quantities of dense smoke and toxic effluents, where the stone wool panelled rooms produced small amounts of light smoke of lower toxicity. Furthermore, the tests showed that modifications to the standard test can lead to extremely different outcomes for some of the products. As the modifications simulated real-life situations, it seems important to discuss whether the standard is robust enough for property safety scenarios encountered in industrial premises.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFire Technology
Early online date6 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Sandwich, Composite, Panel, ISO 13784-1, Enclosure, Toxicity, Fire


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