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PVC cables: research and innovation

One of the objectives of the PVC4Cables platform is to promote the advantages of PVC cables at the most relevant events of the cable sector, and in particular the formulation developments and innovations that the PVC supply chain have developed over the years and will continue to develop.

The Cable 2019 conference, which took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, on 5-7 March, gave the opportunity to Gianluca Sarti and Marco Piana to present the work developed by Italian compounders members of the ‘Compounds for Cables Group’ of PVC Forum Italia and of the PVC4Cables platform.

The presentation New formulations and test comparison for the classification of PVC cables under EU regulation n° 305/2011 for construction products showed the preliminary data related to the fire behaviour of a new generation of compounds for PVC cables.

Characteristic of these compounds is to have low smoke emissions and in particular very low emissions of acid smokes. The measurements were conducted in accordance with the EN 60754/2 and EN 60754/1 standards. The comparison between the two technical standards shows how EN 60754/2, which requires higher temperatures without a heating ramp, is more severe than EN 60754/1.

The presentation details the hydrochloric acid’s absorption theory at high temperatures, provides formulation examples of efficient and inefficient acid scavengers, and describes the impact they have on common flame retardants.

This presentation raised great interest in the cable sector at the global level, to the extent that a longer and more detailed version was presented at NIST in Washington, USA, by Camillo Cardelli (researcher, I-Pool / Italian National Research Council) see presentation attached.

Although in recent years PVC had been put under scrutiny due to its combustion products, the presentation remarks how the latest generation of PVC cable compounds not only can compete with alternative materials, but can also be a better choice in terms of fire safety thanks to its reduced smoke opacity and acidity.

Today, PVC with synthetic and natural flame-retardant mineral fillers offers ‘green’ and competitive solutions to reduce smoke and improve flame resistance, without a significant impact on final cost.

New additives and flame retardants not only make PVC cables available with a very interesting cost/ performance ratio, but they also provide new technical solutions for the ever-increasing demand for environmentally friendly technologies and materials.