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This application of the Fire-LCA model compared two different materials used for cable sheathing, both with similar fire resistance characteristics.

Statistics from the UK and Sweden were used to estimate the number of fires confined to cables only, and the number originating in cables but spreading to a room or whole house. Data from Denmark estimated 250m of electrical cable per house (50m per room) and 140 fires/million km cable/year.

Fire emissions tests were carried out using a large scale cable test chamber (40m of mounted cable, 20kW gas burner flame = modified IEC 332-3 test), under two different ventilation conditions.

Different end-of-life scenarios were considered, ranging from 100% landfill, to 100% energy recovery (incineration of plastics) to 100% material recycling. Scenarios with different numbers of fires were examined, to assess the relative impact of accidental fires on the total product life cycle pollutant emissions.

The total life cycle emissions for the two types of cables are similar for most pollutants studied (list as above in TV study). Accidental fires made only a minor contribution to cables’ lifetime emissions for certain pollutants (eg. 5% for NOx) but were a major contributor of carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (PAH), dioxins/furans and sulphur dioxide (SO2) for both types of cable.

Furniture Fire-LCA Study

“Fire-LCA model: Furniture study”, SP Report 2003:22 (www.sp.se)

Key phases:

  • production by IKEA of a typical commercially available sofa model in flame retarded and non-FR versions

  • ignition tests of these sofas to confirm characteristics

  • LCA model construction and specification of data requirements

  • full-scale fire tests of (1) sofas and (2) furnished rooms with monitoring of emissions, including CO2, CO, NOx, HCN, PAH, HCl, TCDD-TBDD equivalents, Sb, PBDEs, HC, VOC, HBr, P

  • analysis of fire statistics to estimate the number and nature of accidental domestic fires related to non-FR and flame retarded furniture

  • collection of energy and pollutant data concerning sofa manufacture, flame retardant manufacture

  • collection of data concerning end-of-life disposal of furniture and estimation of related emissions

  • collection of data concerning furniture average life (from manufacture to disposal)

  • calculation of LCA results for energy and different pollutant emissions, for various scenarios

  • comparison of different pollutant emissions on the basis of a modified cancer risk model

Type of furniture used

Three different sofas were used for this study, all based on a standard, commercially available European model sold by IKEA (the “Klippan” model). This model is currently marketed with a mainly polystyrene rigid frame, but for this study a wooden frame was used because this is more representative of typical furniture on the market. The sofa’s other elements were: Bonell springs wrapped in felt, polyurethane foam filling and polyester wadding, an 80% cotton / 20% polyester cotton external fabric, plus a decorative 100% cotton cover.

The sofas used were custom made specifically for the project in order to ensure full knowledge, and invariability, of constituent elements conforming to the manufacturer’s usual commercial production.

T w o m o d e l s c o n f o r m i n g t o U K 1 9 8 8 F u r n i t u r e F i r e S a f e t y R e g u l a t i o n s 3 w e r e p r o d u c e d . B o t h o f these models contained a flame-retarded foam, using a phosphorus-based (TCPP) – nitrogen based

3 UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988, Statutory Instrument 1988/No. 1324 http://www.dti.gov.uk/ccp/topics1/guide/furnitureguide.pdf

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