Replacements for Asbestos as a Heat Resistant Material
September 28, 2016
Asbestos has been a known health concern since the 1970s, and ever since then there has been widespread movement to find replacements for it in every industry where it was commonly used. Of course, asbestos saw a lot of use as a material used as a heat resistant product, but in more modern times, we have found other materials that do the same job in a much safer capacity. Here are a few of the best and most commonly used asbestos alternatives.
Fibreglass has become the king of asbestos replacements, being used in almost every way that asbestos has been, with much of the same benefits and very few health concerns. Although there was concern over it for a time, fibreglass has since become considered as a safe, temperature resistant alternative to asbestos.
Fibreglass’ main downside is that it doesn’t have quite the tensile strength of asbestos, or of many other heat resistant materials, lending it to the potential for more damage. In some instances, this is less of a concern, where it is likely to only be used as insulation for example, but in many manufacturing industries, a material is required that is both temperature resistant and strong.
Polybenzimidazole (PBI) fibre is a synthetic fibre that was created and improved upon in the 50s and 60s. PBI is most commonly used in personal protective equipment (PPE), especially for hazardous occupations such as firefighters and astronauts. Being thermally stable and flame resistant, it is ideal for use in high temperature environments.
The main concern over PBI as a PPE material is that its heat resistance works both ways. Although it works very well to keep heat away from the body, it is also very good at keeping heat in, which can make it dangerous if a person wearing it does become too hot, either due to their environment or simply due to high levels of activity.
Ceramic fibres are another commonly used asbestos alternative, and one that we make great use of at Textile Technologies for their heat resistant properties. Ceramic fibre is often reinforced with glass, although this does bring down the maximum operating temperature for the added bonus of structural stability. Without glass, ceramic fibre is often operable at temperatures as high as 1000 C or more, while with glass it still works at 500C, which is enough for many purposes.
Bio Soluble Alternatives
Despite the great use of ceramic fibre as an asbestos alternative, refractory ceramic fibre has recently been classified by the EU as potentially dangerous if not handled properly, which is why Textile Technologies have come up with another asbestos replacement solution that is less hazardous.