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LSHF materials | testing


Finding clarity in LSHF cables


There is some confusion in the cable industry regarding performance of low smoke halogen free (LSHF) cables and the materials used to produce them. Products identified as LSHF - or as low smoke zero halogen (LSZH) - have been with us for some time. However, performance claims are frequently self-certified and testing procedures may not always be standards based. More importantly, there are frequently misconceptions over what some tests actually cover. This article aims to clear up confusion through an explanation of the main international standards and their scope.


Background to LSHF LSHF cable materials originated in Europe and the US in the 1970s. During the 1980s, they were used in applications such as the London Underground mass transport system, the UK’s Royal Navy vessels, and offshore oil drilling platforms in the North Sea. Typically, LSHF cables were installed in confined spaces where the toxicity and corrosivity of smoke generated in a fire would be particularly problematic. Adoption of LSHF cable products has been slower in the US than in Europe, but that began to change as a result of some recent high-profile fires. One example, for instance was the L’Enfant Plaza Metro train incident in Washington DC on the 12 January this year, where an electrical malfunction fire filled a tunnel with smoke, killing one person and injuring many others.


www.compoundingworld.com


The numerous standards applying to low smoke halogen free cable materials have resulted in some


confusion among suppliers and users. UL specialist Robert Bellassai provides some clarification


Traditionally found in the power and control catego- ries, LSHF cable products have now branched out to include data/telecom cables, fibre optic cables and appliance wire and cable. They also are being used in locations other than the traditional confined spaces of tunnels, subways, ships, submarines and mines, with LSHF cables now frequently found in hospitals and data centres (UL will be proposing optional HF and LSHF Marking for the US 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) revision cycle).


Asia and South America are also adopting LSHF wire


and cable, following the EU approach to cable stand- ards. In a global economy, manufacturers now have access to a standards-based LSHF cable designation and cable designers can produce a single design that can be sold and applied around the world. To better understand LSHF, it is first necessary to


consider what a halogen is in terms of the Periodic Table. The five halogen elements found in column 17 are


December 2016 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 35


Main image: The scope of international standards


covering low


smoke halogen free (LSHF)


cable materials has been frequently


misunderstood, according to


UL, leading to confusion in the market


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