If you’ve searched for any type of passive fire protection or petroleum facility fireproofing lately, you likely found a good amount of information about fire-retardant intumescent coating systems, but very few sites actually answer three common questions:
- What are intumescent coatings and how do they work?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of using intumescent systems?
- How do intumescent coatings compare to other fire protection options?
As with any fireproof system, intumescent coatings are designed to delay the failure point of steel equipment or structures during a rapid temperature rise, or UL 1709 rated, fire. Applied as a spray coating or a molded on epoxy coating, intumescent systems chemically react and expand when exposed to a fire and to create a carbon-based layer of char.
Design installation of an intumescent coating system differs slightly based on the type of system purchased. In petroleum and petrochemical applications, most coating systems involve shipping equipment to the vendor for measurement and design purposes. Vendors create fitted, epoxy coating molds, prepare equipment surfaces and then permanently apply the systems to equipment.