In this interview, Denis Holleyn, Technical Marketing Manager at Evonik, talks to AZoM about a new particulate foam, meeting the most stringent FST and heat release requirements of aircraft interiors and other life-critical applications. fire safety.
To start, can you tell us about the fire requirements for sandwich composite foam core materials for commercial aircraft interiors?
The most frightening event for every passenger, crew and airplane pilot is a fire breaking out on board during a flight. To prevent a possible outbreak of fire or limit the spread of flames, there are strict requirements concerning the behavior of the materials of the interior of the aircraft when subjected to a fire or other high thermal loads. A very common set of requirements 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 major aircraft original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as Airbus (AITM – Airbus Industrial Test Method) and Boeing (BSS – Boeing Safety Standard). FAR 25.853, AITM, and BSS describe test methods and requirements for the flammability behavior, smoke generation, and smoke/gas toxicity of materials when subjected to fire tests. In addition to this, there are also stringent requirements regarding heat release – a very difficult factor to consider when choosing an appropriate material for any commercial aircraft interior component.
What is the driving force behind the development of the new ROHAFORM® foam product?
Since passenger safety is paramount in flight, Evonik has moved forward to innovate in this market by expanding its portfolio of high performance sandwich foam core materials with a new and inherently flame retardant foam solution. Through its development efforts, Performance Foams is today able to serve the market with an innovative rigid foam material based on polymer particle foam technology called ROHAFORM®.
Image credit: © Evonik
Can you introduce your ROHAFORM® product – what is it and what sets it apart?
ROHAFORM® is an inherently flame retardant, fully thermoplastic particle foam. Due to its exceptional stiffness and thermomechanical properties, it is an ideal material for composite sandwich designs or stand-alone foam parts with higher thermal requirements. As ROHAFORM® is a particulate foam solution, a highly automated production process allows a large quantity of identical and complex parts to be produced with tight tolerances and a narrow internal density distribution.
Image credit: © Evonik
Competitive cycle times provide great advantages when creating net-like cores for sandwich designs when molding parts. Additionally, additional functions, such as inserts, can be integrated directly into the molding process. Customers benefit from an off-the-shelf foam core solution that eliminates manual post-processing and reduces net working capital in the customer’s warehouse.
Why should composite part designers consider ROHAFORM® as a next-generation solution to well-known base materials for fire-critical applications?
ROHAFORM® opens up a completely new way of designing foam parts as a sandwich core material or as a technical part without surface layers. Particle foam technology allows designers to realize their free-form dreams and removes many of the limitations and boundaries that plague when designing with other typical sheet materials.
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Wall thickness variations within a part are not an obstacle and the possibility of direct integration of functions or functional space allows a part designer to rethink traditional part design. This takes the built-in design options to a new level by removing limitations on sheet dimensions and thickness. To finish, ROHAFORM® allows to combine the structural and thermal functions of the parts by being an excellent thermal insulator, so that the additional weight and space required for thermal insulation can be reduced.
How does ROHAFORM® contribute to market demand for sustainable material solutions?
ROHAFORM® was 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 practically proven that the new foam product can be recycled using state-of-the-art processing 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 of ROHAFORM®?
ROHAFORM® is the ideal material for all applications where passenger fire safety is a subject. While it is the ideal solution for design demanding aircraft interior applications such as aircraft seats, cabin, galley or lavatory components, ROHAFORM® is also the ideal material for other industries with high fire safety requirements. Examples include the current evolving industries of urban air mobility, high-speed rail, electric cars, and many more.
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 Technical Marketing Manager at Evonik Performance Foams, market leader for aircraft interiors in the aerospace segment. Denis studied environmental engineering at the University of Koblenz in Germany and holds a master’s degree in plastics engineering from the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Joining Evonik in 2013, he held applied technology and product development roles at Performance Foams, with global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.