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By Jonathan Jones, Global Product Category Manager, Raychem.

If we are to see an increased demand for safety in public areas and buildings, and a subsequent change in regulaons, it is up to the industry as a whole to drive product improvement and promote best pracce when it comes to installing heattracing soluons made from nonhazardous materials.


he growing demand for improved energy efficiency across the commercial and large scale building sector has led increasing numbers of developers to replace existing products with smart solutions. The aim is often to meet ISO 14000, a series of standards that comply with applicable law, and minimise the negative effect that equipment has on energy efficiency. Such investments also enhance the life of buildings and decrease maintenance and repair costs, but the safety credentials of products installed play a significant role in the decision- making process.

Successful fire safety design, for example, requires an understanding of a wide range of issues such as fire source, smoke movement, heat transfer to the building structure, detection, human behaviour and toxicity – all of which must also comply with industry regulations and regional standards. Each component must pass building safety tests. For cables, most of these focus on the reaction of the materials to fire as, in the event of a fire, the primary danger is not the fire itself but the smoke and gases produced.

Historically, cables were often insulated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or similar materials. But PVC releases toxic chlorine gas when melted, while the alternative – halogen cables – produce a thick black smoke when they come in contact with water, considerably hindering the evacuation of a building during a fire.

Furthermore, halogens also bind with moisture to create acid, potentially harming people and causing corrosion and damage to costly equipment.

Improving building safety and performance T

As a result, a number of cable flame retardance and smoke density test standards have been written by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and introduced alongside other European regulations with the aim of decreasing risk to building users.

But while heating cables for industrial and commercial applications must be compliant with these standards to be approved for large-scale renovation projects, the majority of regulations focus only on general cables and their reaction towards fire.

Although there are a few regulations that focus specifically on the flame retardancy of heat tracing cables, such as the IEC62395:2013 standard, this at present only requires a heating cable to be self-extinguishing within one minute, and does not include any specifications for low smoke or zero halogen properties. If we are to see an increased demand for safety in public areas and buildings, and a subsequent change in regulations, it is up to the industry as a whole to drive product improvement and promote best practice when it comes to installing heat-tracing solutions made from non-hazardous materials.

Ensuring winter safety

With UK winter temperatures regularly dipping to -12°C in some rural areas and -7°C in urban areas, it is also critical that buildings are

adequately protected against cold weather and the risks it poses to building infrastructure. Burst water pipes, for example, are a common occurrence that can result in significant damage and costly repairs.

To help protect pipes from freezing and address the industry’s concerns around building safety in the event of a fire, Raychem has developed a range of low smoke zero halogen (LSZH) self- regulating heat-tracing cables, XL-Trace. Designed to provide safe and efficient pipe- freeze protection for commercial and residential buildings, the range uses self-regulating heat trace technology to emit only the required amount of heat according to the ambient temperature. The result is a significant energy saving compared to constant wattage series heaters and zone heating cables that use the same amount of power all the time. The new LSZH jacket material of the XL-Trace range meets the requirements of low-smoke testing (with compliance to IEC61034-2), and ensures a safer environment by providing enhanced resistance under the IEC62395 flammability test, meaning that the cables do not spread fire. The cables also minimise smoke emissions by up to 90% compared to typical polyolefin jacketed cables.

Ensuring the safety of a building, and considering all aspects that can impact this, is one of the most important considerations for today’s architects, engineers and contractors.


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