Intumescent Coatings

Topic #: AF2005-118
Sponsor: AFRL ML
Status: Phase II completed February 2007. Seeking transition partners.
TRL: 4
Patent: Patent pending.
Need: Fire protection for composite structures.
Operational Gap: Current coatings do not provide sufficient heat and fire resistance.

TRI/Austin, Inc. is developing innovative protective coatings that can be applied over composite structures and impart unique and vastly improved flame, smoke, and toxicity (FST) characteristics. We built on our previously successful Phase I work to further develop new preceramic coatings. This is a new and distinctive class of fire retardant intumescent coatings. Upon exposure to fire, this new coating swells into a tough, durable, insulating char that protects the underlying composite substrate. In the Phase I effort TRI/Austin developed and tested ambient cured, VOC and HAP free, abrasion resistant, chemically resistant, fire retardant coatings. These aerospace composite coatings exhibit extended times to ignition at very high heat fluxes in cone calorimetry tests. Peak heat times up to 530 seconds have been recorded in cone testing. Phase II focused on further formulation optimization of the composite coating, product scale up, field application studies, and comprehensive laboratory testing. Extant intumescent coatings don’t provide adequate heat and fire protection. The proposed preceramic coating binders are new materials, finding applications within the last five years. Improved fire and heat resistance for composite aerospace structures translates into saving warfighter and firefighter lives.

Our new intumescent aircraft composite coatings will be directly applicable to platforms like the C-17 Globemaster, which extensively uses composites. The thermally resistant coatings could also benefit several other platforms including the JSF, F-117, and the B-2. In addition, Army tanks, Humvees, and armed forces support vehicles could immediately make use of the new coatings. NASA may have an interest in the new coatings. Commercially the coatings could be used for commercial aircraft interior coatings, infrastructure, offshore, and as steel protective coatings.