The United Kingdom is currently experiencing a period of great change. From Brexit to the fourth industrial revolution, businesses of all kinds are in the process of adapting for the future. Construction is facing a monumental change that may be little known to those outside the industry. In the wake of the Grenfell tower fire the government has introduced building regulations to ban the use of combustible materials above 18 m. This ban affects all new high-rise buildings such as flats, offices, hospitals, care homes and schools. Some organisations and individuals are calling for the ban to be extended further to cover buildings that are not high rise. It is possible the affect of the new regulations will be even wider reaching than first anticipated. As Assistant Chemist at Structural Adhesives Ltd I have been keeping a close eye on advancements in the governments fire safety inquiries since long before the ban was announced. I alongside the Senior Chemist have attended a number of lectures on the new construction fire regulations and what this will mean for the industry. Many construction companies that supply materials, for instance cladding or insulation, to projects such as these are now unable to do so without making substantial changes to their products. Corporations are pooling time and money into developing new materials that are able to pass the stringent fire tests to gain A1 or A2 fire ratings and be classified as non-combustible. Not only must construction companies assess the combustibility of their products they must also evaluate how they designed to be are fixed in or onto buildings.
The research and development team at Structural Adhesives Ltd are working tirelessly to develop A1 and A2 rated adhesives that can be used for bonding substrates in buildings above 18 m. The vast majority of adhesives inherently contain a high level of carbon which is combustible but is also heavily involved in the bonding mechanism. 30 years’ experience at Structural Adhesives Ltd is being used alongside knowledge from degree level qualifications in chemistry to develop innovative technologies that overcome the challenge of drastically reducing the combustibility, whilst still maintaining the adhesives ability to form a durable bond. As well as being non-combustible any adhesives used on the exterior of high-rise buildings must be equipped to tolerate harsh weather conditions such as frost, rain, high winds and UV light. Part of the A1/A2 adhesive development process at Structural Adhesives Ltd includes rigorous testing of potential products against factors such as these, giving customers peace of mind. Structural Adhesives Ltd are also striving to ensure that the A1/A2 adhesives developed look, feel and behave similarly to those currently being used for such applications, with the aim to provide a welcome sense of continuity to the industry.
The availability of an A1 or A2 adhesive would be a breath of fresh air for architects giving greater flexibility of design for high-rise buildings. Designers would benefit from the advantages of an adhesive, such as aesthetics and bonding dissimilar substrates, whilst being assured of fire safety and regulatory compliance.