CSIRO researchers in Melbourne are developing tough fire-resistant coating materials called 'hybrid inorganic polymer system'. HIPS is tailored to withstand temperatures of over 1000 degrees Celsius.
Current commercial coatings used on building materials and structures break down at between 150-250 degrees C.
HIPS coatings contain an inorganic geopolymer resin, and a small component of polymer additives.
"Geopolymers are an emerging class of ceramic-like inorganic polymers produced at room temperatures that have the potential to transform the building products industry," he said.
"They are not only fire-, blast- and acid-resistant, they are also strong, castable, sprayable, and extrudable, making their potential uses almost limitless," he explained.
"The polymer additives in HIPS improve the flexibility and waterproofing properties, and provide stronger adhesion, which are important properties for a coating," he added.
HIPS has the potential to form thin fireproof coatings on timbers such as weatherboards, and on metals such as structural or galvanised steel. It can also protect brickwork, either as a thin coating or as a render.
HIPS can be applied by spray equipment, roller or brush, and cures from ambient temperature to below 90 degrees C.
As water-based products, HIPS coatings are free of volatile organic compounds, do not burn or produce heat, and do not release smoke or toxic chemicals at temperatures up to 1200 degrees C.
The strength of HIPS materials is comparable with that of phenolic resins in heat-sensitive applications, but HIPS retains higher strength at higher temperatures.
HIPS formulations are tailored to be interchangeable with phenolic resins, and have higher fatigue resistance than normal phenolics.