In this interview, Denis Holleyn, Technical Marketing Manager at Evonik, talks to AZoM about a novel particle foam, meeting the strictest FST and Heat Release requirements of aircraft interiors and other fire safety-critical applications.
To begin, can you give us an introduction into the fire requirements for sandwich composite foam core materials for commercial aircraft interiors?
The most frightening event for every aircraft passenger, crew, and pilot is for a fire to break out on board during a flight. To prevent a potential fire outbreak or limit the flame spread, there are strict requirements regarding the behavior of aircraft interior materials when subjected to fire or other high thermal loads. One very common requirement package is described in the FAR 25.853 standard, valid for large commercial aircraft.
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The standard was developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is widely applied in fire safety regulations by large aircraft original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), like Airbus (AITM - Airbus Industrial Test Method) and Boeing (BSS - Boeing Safety Standard). FAR 25.853, AITM, and BSS describe test methods and requirements regarding flammability behavior, smoke generation, and smoke/gas toxicity of materials when subjected to fire testing. In addition to that, there are also strict requirements regarding Heat Release - a very challenging factor to consider when choosing a suitable material for any commercial aircraft interior component.
What is the driving force behind the development of the new foam product ROHAFORM®?
Since passenger safety is paramount when flying, Evonik moved forward to innovate in this market by expanding its portfolio of high-performance sandwich foam core materials with a novel and inherently flame-retardant foam solution. As a result of its development efforts, Performance Foams is now capable today of serving the market with an innovative polymer particle foam technology-based rigid foam material called ROHAFORM®.
Image Credit: © Evonik
Can you introduce your ROHAFORM® product – what is it and what sets it apart?
ROHAFORM® is an intrinsically flame retardant, fully thermoplastic particle foam. Due to its rigidity and outstanding thermal-mechanical properties, it is an ideal material for composite sandwich designs or stand-alone foam parts with higher thermal requirements. Since ROHAFORM® is a particle foam solution, a highly automated production process makes it possible to produce a high quantity of identical, complex parts with tight tolerances and a narrow internal density distribution.
Image Credit: © Evonik
Competitive cycle times provide strong benefits when creating net-shaped cores for sandwich designs during part molding. As a plus, additional functions, such as inserts, can be integrated into the molding process directly. Customers benefit from receiving a ready-to-use foam core solution that eliminates manual post-processing and reduces Net Working Capital at the customer's warehouse.
Why should composite part designers consider ROHAFORM® as a next generation solution over well-known core materials for fire critical applications?
ROHAFORM® opens up a completely new way to design foam parts as a sandwich core material or as a technical part without face layers. The particle foam technology enables designers to make their freeform dreams a reality and removes many of the limitations and boundaries that are problematic when desiging with other typical sheet materials.
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Wall thickness variations within a part are not a hurdle and the possibility of direct integration of functions or functional space allows a part designer to rethink traditional part design. This brings integrated design options to a new level by removing limitations regarding sheet dimensions and thickness. Finally, ROHAFORM® makes it possible to combine structural and thermal part functions by being a great thermal insulator, so additional weight and space needed for thermal insulation can be reduced.
How does ROHAFORM® contribute to the market's demand for sustainable material solutions?
ROHAFORM® has been developed with sustainability aspects in mind. An integrated Life Cycle Analysis was part of the product development process, ensuring that the fully thermoplastic polymer foam meets the needs of a modern circular economy.
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Evonik has proven practically that the new foam product can be recycled utilizing state-of-the-art process technologies for thermoplastic polymers. ROHAFORM® can contribute to the sustainability needs of part producers and end-users by providing a meaningful end of life perspective.
What are the different application possibilities for ROHAFORM®?
ROHAFORM® is the ideal material for all applications where passenger fire safety is a topic. While it is the perfect solution for design-challenging aircraft interior applications, such as aircraft seats, cabin, galley, or lavatory components, ROHAFORM® is also the ideal material for other industries with high requirements for fire safety. Examples include the currently evolving industries of Urban Air Mobility, high-speed trains, electric cars, and many others.
Image Credit: © Evonik
Where can readers find more information?
Visit the ROHAFORM® website for more information at https://www.rohaform.com
About Denis Holleyn
Denis Holleyn is a Technical Marketing Manager with Evonik Performance Foams, responsible for the Aircraft Interiors market in the Aerospace Segment. Denis studied Environmental Engineering at the University Koblenz in Germany and holds a Master's degree in Plastics Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt in Germany. Joining Evonik in 2013, he has held Applied Technology and Product Development positions with Performance Foams, headquartered globally in Darmstadt, Germany.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.