HERTFORD, England—The Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre has commercialized a flame retardant natural rubber for use in entrance matting after a successful trial at a London Underground station.
TARRC, the research and promotion center of the Malaysian Rubber Board, signed an agreement with Entrance Matting Systems Ltd. for use of TARRC's Natural-FR halogen free, low smoke, low toxic rubber compound.
Use of Natural-FR also will help the matting maker meet sustainability targets in products because it is derived from renewable resources and will “have a significant negative carbon footprint,” according to TARRC.
“I am delighted that this unique material developed here at TARRC has passed the stringent requirements demanded by London Underground,” said Stuart Cook, TARRC director of research. “TARRC's Natural-FR addresses today's market needs for safe, high performing sustainable materials, which can be used in challenging environments such as metro systems.”
The industry previously had been using synthetic materials, but the Malaysian Rubber Board center took on the challenge of developing a usable compound based on natural rubber, according to Marina Fernando, head of TARRC's industrial support unit.
“What we had to do was look at the various standards currently in place in Europe, do the various testing and achieve third-party certification,” she said. “You just can't go in and put the material anywhere. You have to go to a certified laboratory that would do all the tests.”
Criteria that had to be met for the flooring application covered smoke density, smoke toxicity, heat release rate, flame spread, and dry and wet slip resistance.
TARRC modified the natural rubber and then added fire retardant additives, Fernando said. “What's proprietary is the modified natural rubber and the way we have optimized the additives package that goes into the rubber compound to give it the flame retardancy,” she said.