On the 4th May 1982, HMS Sheffield, a Type 42 Guided Missile Destroyer being deployed in The Falklands Conflict, was attacked by two Argentinian Super Etendard aircraft armed with Exocet Anti-Ship Missiles. The missiles scored a direct hit, but whether or not they exploded is open to conjecture and debate. However, what is beyond debate is that damage caused by the missile impact severed the high-pressure fire main on board, and the resultant fire, caused by burning rocket propellant, ignited diesel oil from the ready-use tanks in the engine room, and other inflammable materials used in the ship's construction. Twenty crew lost their lives, and the fires continued to burn unchecked for a number of days after the ship was abandoned. The ship finally floundered on the 10th May.
On the 18th November 1987, a lit match dropped on an escalator at Kings Cross Tube Station resulted in a fire. Thirty-one people, including London Fire Brigade officers, died and 100 people were taken to hospital, 19 with serious injuries.
Although there were other major contributing factors in both cases, the use of PVC insulated cable is both situations did not help, and probably made bad things worse.
When PVC burns, contained within the smoke is Hydrogen Chloride gas. When this condenses with water vapour, or onto a wet surface, Hydrochloric Acid is formed. On the Sheffield, this acid burnt through the printed circuits on the Fire Fighting equipment, allowing the fire to get out of control, and at Kings Cross, people in poorly ventilated areas, trying to escape, choking and suffocating in the dense acrid smoke, were unable to safely evacuate.
We learn by our mistakes, and new materials were sought that could replace PVC, but without the harmful effects of acidic smoke. Hence the introduction of Zero Halogen cable, which is produced without using any of the Halogen group of elements, Florine, Bromine, Iodine and Astatine, as well as the Chlorine found in PVC. Materials within the Polyethylene family have always been favourite, as well as Silicone, but recently a new weapon has been added to the arsenal.
Alpha Wire Inc, for whom Aerco Ltd are Premier Distributors in the UK, have recently introduced the EcoGen range of cables. EcoGen products contain no halogens, phthalates, or heavy metals. The mPPE thermoplastic insulation and jacketing can also be easily recycled. They meet RoHS and WEEE requirements for the elimination of hazardous substances and recyclability.
If you have a need or desire to move away from using PVC insulation, contact us at Aerco Ltd, and we shall be happy to guide you to the right product for your requirements.
To learn more cable and wire services and products at Aerco, please message us or call us on 01403 260206.