The protection of human life and goods assumes a growing concern in all forms of activities. The fire and smoke curtains have as main role to act as a physical barrier to prevent the fire from spreading between spaces as well as to staunch the smoke and heat transfer to adjacent areas. They can also be easily operated (opening and closing) causing a minimal interference with the flow of materials and humans within confines spaces, such as warehouses and industries, while providing adequate protection. Thus, there are a set of characteristics that these products must exhibit high fire protection, thermal resistance and gas impermeability.
The classification of the heat resistance, described in the European Standard BS EN 1634-1: Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door, shutter and, openable window assemblies and elements of building hardware — fire resistance tests for doors, shutters and openable windows, is the procedure that allows determining the response of a product in contributing by its decomposition to a fire to which it is exposed, being according to three criteria: (i) integrity, (ii) insulation and (iii) radiation.
Usually curtains are based on fiber-based structures which can be coated to enhance their protective capabilities. In addition, the fibrous structure can be tailored to optimize its behaviour using 2D and 3D complex architectures, with single or multiple materials.
The performance assessment of the curtains regarding the aforementioned parameters is performed resorting to several experimental procedures that are detailed in the specific standards.
The present paper reports the development of novel fibrous structures used for heat protection curtains. They are based on the various combinations of hybrid structures combining 2 or 3 different yarn materials. The tests are carried out in a purpose built oven that induces a steep temperature rate (approximately 600 °C in 5 min) on one side of the sample followed by a slower rate up to 950 °C in 60 min. The sample is placed under stress during the test in order to mimic that caused by its own weight. Thermocouples monitor the temperature on both sides of the sample and its integrity is assessed by both the occurrence of fabric rupture and smoke release due to ignition. Both the fabric integrity and the temperature on the back side of the sample are an indicator of its performance which follows the European Standard BS EN 13501-2: Fire classification of construction products and building elements. Classification using data from fire resistance tests, excluding ventilation services.
From the results one can conclude that hybrid structures, including either basalt and glass fibers, are the most suitable.