Also used in the helmet of firefighters. Styrofoam “Kalook” with the characteristic of resistance to burningEiwa Matex Co.,Ltd
“Kalook” is used as the inner liner in the helmets worn by firefighters. The name is derived from one of its other characteristics, lightweight
Points to be noted
- Contribute to safety during disaster relief with its use in helmets of firefighters
- Contribute to society with a material that is resistant to disasters and environmentally friendly
Eiwa Matex Co., Ltd. is a research company that specializes in fireproofing and heat insulation of plastic including Styrofoam. The company is significantly contributing to society by developing new materials and products that offer relief and safety.
The main product of the company is Styrofoam “Kalook” which is resistant to burning with features such as non-inflammable and flame retardant. Although conventional Styrofoam was used widely worldwide as plastic with high versatility, it has the disadvantage of being flammable. For this reason, it failed to offer the elements of relief and safety and had a disadvantage in usage as a construction material.
The disadvantage of Styrofoam that it is flammable has been resolved in “Kalook”, and this gives rise to the question why is Kalook resistant to burning?
The secret lies in the “Beads”. Kalook beads are made by primary foaming of beads of polystyrene raw material, and then coating chemical agents on the beads one by one (Referred to as C/B in this article). When C/B used in Kalook is exposed to a flame, it hollows out with instantaneous melting by burning. The coating layer of the “Beads”, which has been applied to each bead does not burn and only carbonizes even when exposed to a flame and can maintain the bead shape. This hollowing out and carbonization forms a barrier against flame and high heat, preventing the fire from spreading. Kalook has acquired a patent for this mechanism, and it has been certified as a non-inflammable material by the Ministry of Land Infrastructure, and Transport.
Kalook has the following characteristics in addition to “Fire resistance”.
“Ultra-lightweight”, “Excellent thermal insulation”, “Can be molded to any shape”, “Low water absorption”, and “Recyclable”
Various characteristics of Kalook leading with its burning resistance was noticed and it was used as an inner liner (Cushioning material) in helmets of the Tokyo Fire Department.
When conventional Styrofoam that is flammable is used in the inner liner of helmets worn by fire-fighters, it has the risk of melting under high temperature during the firefighting activities and getting stuck to the heads of fire-fighters. This hinders firefighting and rescue operations, and there is also a risk to the lives of fire-fighters, and safety measures were a challenge. When conventional Styrofoam is brought near a fire, it burns and melts within a few seconds. In the case of liners manufactured using Kalook, though the surface is burnt, the material does not melt even when exposed to fire for 8 or more minutes.
The helmet, developed by the company and a large helmet manufacturer using Kalook, has passed the ISO and EN standards for the fire protection hat of fire-fighters. Currently the helmet is being used by several fire brigades across Japan including the Tokyo Fire Department.
This product has various features from the environmental perspective as mentioned below.
〇Fluorocarbons are not used
Hydrocarbons such as butane or pentane are used as the foaming gas for Kalook, and specific or alternative fluorocarbons including fluorine-based gases are not used at all. Butane or pentane are replaced by air within a short period after the manufacturing process and hardly any gas remains in the product.
〇Sick house syndrome measures
Resin with a small amount of free formaldehyde is used in Kalook. The emission of formaldehyde that causes “Sick house syndrome” is controlled to a minimum by completing the reactions through thermoforming and heat curing. According to measurements by the company, it is equivalent to F four stars (Emission level of formaldehyde is graded by the number of stars, F☆☆☆☆ (F four stars) is the highest rank grade that can be displayed on products having minimum formaldehyde emission).
〇Does not trigger dioxins
Since chlorine or bromine based flame-resistant material is not used in the material components of Kalook, it does not trigger dioxins and is environment-friendly.
Based on the above points, Kalook may be used in the future not only for building materials but also in various fields as a heat resistant and environment-friendly product.
Mr. Ueda Hiro, representative director of the company said, “Basically, Kalook is not a need-based product, it is has developed from the seed of creating Styrofoam that is resistant to burning. The need and seed have finally matched after 20 years from development”.
Mr. Ueda Hiro further stated, “Kalook is only a material, and it is the customer who has to decide how to use the material.” Currently, the company has received an inquiry from a trading company to spread the material's use as an insulator for large size refrigerators in Southeast Asian Countries. It is expected that the seed called Kalook will grow quickly and respond to various needs of the world.
Interview Date: February 19, 2019
"Kalook" is a new resin material with a great potential. This can be said to be a new material in the coming era, that besides being non-flammable, has high insulation properties of Styrofoam. In addition, it addresses the recent environmental concerns and is recyclable.