FIPEC - Fire Performance of Electric Cables

The Fipec project is about reaction to fire properties of cables on the European marked. In the project test procedures are developed based on existing tests. Measurement of heat release rate and smoke production rates are introduced. The burning behaviour of cables was modelled. The project was sponsored by EU.
Objectives
  • Develop or modify cable fire test methods offering improvements on existing IEC tests. Develop a small scale test for electrical cables.
  • Develop a correlation model for full scale tests based on the results of small-scale tests. 
  • Develop bases for a calculation model for the prediction of realistic fire performance of electrical cables.
Results
  • A full-scale test, based on IEC 60332.3 has been established with high discrimination level.
  • Small-scale test procedures have been established for cables and materials, which can be used for modelling of full-scale tests and for product development.
  • The methods can be used for prescriptive codes e.g Euroclasses for cables (DG Industry) or for fire performance based codes.
Measurement and Testing Aspects
  • Implementation of modern measuring techniques within cable fire testing allowing measurement of heat release rate, smoke production rate and content of smoke gases
  • Measurement of fire performance of cables in real, full and small scale tests
  • Development of small scale tests for product development
Project Summary
 

Current European national fire assessment techniques are not sensitive enough to differentiate between cables with reasonable fire properties and those with very good properties needed for high hazard installations. The FIPEC research programme (budget 1 MEURO) was set up to develop methods for measuring the fire performance of electric cables (FIPEC) based on sound engineering principles rather than prescriptive tests as the former will help facilitate the use of good measurement techniques and the introduction of fire engineering in this field.

The work programme was comprised of the development of the fire test procedures and investigation of mathematical fire models to predict fire development in real scale scenarios from smaller scale experiments. The techniques used, which included heat release measurement, have been developed for use with existing IEC test methods to provide a more comprehensive assessment system.

The FIPEC programme included a review of European cable installations, experiments on electric cables and the materials from which they are constructed and modelling studies. The experimental work has being carried out using specimens that represent a wide spectrum of fire behaviour and this was undertaken at different scales and linked by correlation and fire modelling studies, which are the scientific foundations for assessment techniques. Test data from almost 2000 experiments at four different scales is available.

The real scale scenario tests are the reference scenarios and the full-scale tests based on IEC 60332-3 have proved to correlate well with both horizontal and vertical real scale scenario cable tests. The results of the full-scale modified IEC 60332-3 tests can be used as a basis for classification of the fire development and smoke development of cables. The test methods give continuous measurements rather than pass/fail results. Small-scale cone calorimeter testing protocols have been developed both to measure the heat and smoke release properties of cables and the cable materials. Repeatability and reproducibility work has shown that both small and large-scale test procedures are highly repeatable and reproducible.

Both small and full-scale testing exhibit good sensitivity to differing levels of cable fire performance and offer the basis of an assessment system. The test procedures and experiences gained in this programme have been passed to the EC DG industry, sponsors, CENELEC, CEN and cable manufacturers.

Simultaneously different types of modelling have been performed between small, full and real scale tests. This resulted in a number of correlations formulae, numerical flame spread models and advanced CFD modelling. The latter will allow the prediction of cable fires in more complex situations. Also a novel composite pyrolysis model was developed allowing the prediction of the fire behaviour of the cable by means of test results of the different materials used in the cable construction. Such a tool will be of great help for cable development.

Participants
Interscience Communications, UK
Centro Elettrotecnico Sperimentale Italiano, Italy
SP Sveriges Tekniska Forskningsinstitut, Sweden
Institut Scientifique de Service Public, Belgium
Summary of Publications
  1. A review of the FIPEC project, P. van Hees, U. Vercellotti, H. Breulet and S. Grayson, Fire and Materials Conference 1999, San Antonio USA.
  2. An overview of the real scale tests in the Fipec project (Fire Performance of Electrical Cables), Interflam 1999.
  3. Mathematical modelling of fire development in cable installation, P. Van Hees and J. Axelsson, A. M. Green and S. J. Grayson, Fire and Materials Journal, Volume 25 nr 4, pp169-178. Wiley Publications.
  4. Assessing the fire performance of electric cables, P. van Hees, J.Axelsson, U Vercellotti, H Breulet, A. Green and S. Grayson, FR 2000 conference, London UK.
  5. FIPEC Final Report on the Europeans Commisision SMT Programme SMT4-CT96-2059, 410pp, ISBN 0 9532312 5 9, London 2000.
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