We helped develop a plastic cable coating that transforms into a fireproof ceramic in a blaze, protecting electrical circuits for alarms, pumps and fans vital for safe evacuation and firefighting.

The challenge

Fires kill 70,000 people every year

Worldwide, fire related accidents cause more than 70,000 deaths and upward of A$115 billion in property damages every year. One of the key problems in the safe evacuation of people from a building is keeping the cables that power alarms, pumps and fans protected.

Our response

Creating innovative polymers

Leading cable manufacturer Olex (a Nexans company) set us a challenge to design a revolutionary fire-resistant electrical cable that could keep electricity flowing in a fire at temperatures above 1000˚C.

Together with partners at the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Polymers, we took an innovative approach to a technical challenge; developing a polymer that creates a protective ceramic coating around wiring when exposed to high temperatures.

In the event of a fire, this unique technology will significantly improve safety. The cables’ ceramic shield maintains the integrity of wiring that powers devices vital for safe evacuation and firefighting.

All the materials in the cable have low calorific value, which prevents a fire from advancing or spreading. Additionally, to minimise smoke and hazardous gas emissions, the cables are free of lead, antimony and any other hazardous ingredients that could be breathed in whilst evacuating a building.

Ceramifying polymers have a host of potential applications in fire prevention in buildings, ships, vehicles and industrial and defence equipment.

The results

Saving lives while building industry

By partnering with Australian companies such as Olex, we are helping to transform existing industries and build future manufacturing opportunities, supporting job growth and economic benefit for Australia.

Olex has supplied over 1,100 kilometres of electrical cables to the Brisbane Airport Link Project in a contract worth A$10 million to the company.

The fire resistant cable technology has led to the creation of over 60 new products since 2005, providing a boost to local jobs as well as supporting Australian exports to Europe and the replacement of imports from USA and Europe.

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