Jet fire protection for cable trays, storage tanks/vessels, pipe lines and electrical panels

Published:  24 July, 2013

Product focus: Interam Endothermic Mat from 3M

2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster in which 167 men died.  More recently, tragic incidents at oil and gas facilities in the US, Argentina, Venezuela and Japan have served as a reminder of the devasting human, financial and ecological impact of a fire and highlighted the need for fire safety to be given prime consideration.

3M has developed  Interam Endothermic Mat (or ‘3M E-Mat’) material that can provide hydrocarbon and jet fire protection to a range of applications including cable trays, storage tanks and vessels, pipe lines and electrical panels.

3M E-Mat uses endothermic technology to help prevent the transfer of heat from the exposed side to the protected items via a chemical reaction, which absorbs the heat energy.  Its flexible, space-saving construction allows ease of installation for protection to critical areas of all types.

Because of its flexibility, engineers can use 3M E-Mat to meet fire protection requirements in nearly any area and along virtually any wall, helping to reduce the need to make revisions to existing plans. This represents a significant cost-saving and timesaving benefit for both installers and designers.

3M E-Mat can be used for both interior and exterior applications and is designed to endure harsh environments with virtually no maintenance.  The product is also re-enterable and can be removed and reinstalled for quality inspections or future refits.

Electrical circuit protection

When a fire occurs, the electrical systems that control critical areas such as control rooms, process equipment, ventilation, sprinklers, alarms and other emergency systems must remain operational. With the 3M E-Mat, cable raceways, conduit, equipment shrouds and other electrical systems can be protected for up to three hours in intense heat.  The endothermic nature of the product also allows heat from normal operations to dissapate, reducing any ampacity derating of the cables.

Case Study: Ashland Petroleum Company

As part of a continuous safety programme, the Ashland Petroleum Company wanted to investigate methods of  ‘physical insurance’ to guarantee high standards of plant safety.  This included effective fire protection of critical electrical and control systems at three of Ashland’s petrochemical plants in the United States.  Documented losses and a plant inspection pinpointed specific areas in which fire protection needed to be increased including equipment-to-control-room raceways and control systems, pumps, compressors and major piping networks. 

In 2012, the company began testing various systems looking for a solution to provide effective fire protection of critical electrical control systems to ensure safe, controlled plant shut-down of any affected processing units without manual intervention.  Following a successful fire test, 3M E-Mat was accepted into the mechanical specification for fire protection at the Ashland plants. 

The product can be installed typically 25-40 per cent more quickly than other fire protection materials without the need for specialist tools, and therefore also represented significant cost and time savings to the company.

The Autumn issue of Industrial Fire Journal will feature a more in-depth review of 3M E-Mat. To subscribe, click here.

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