After the tsunami-triggered Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011, a Japanese aerospace company that had met representatives from California’s AR Tech during a trade mission to that country asked for help in a better technology to protect the hundreds of miles of cable running through the plant.
Amir Massoudi, director of quality and engineering for AR Tech, described the approach his company took in search of a solution during an IFAI Expo session on Tuesday afternoon.
He explained that 3M’s Interam E-5 A-4 is the state-of-the-art product for protection against exposure to a continuous 2,012 degrees Fahrenheit. But Interam is very thick and heavy. AR Tech proposed a lighter cover with a combination of ceramic products sewn with ceramic thread to make one blanket.
The first test of eight samples combining Interam with one or two layers of its blanket yielded disappointing results. A second test of four samples with differing numbers of fabric and batting layers showed drastic improvement. None of the samples reached a temperature of 140 degrees at three hours, and three samples did not exceed 140 degrees at four hours.
Though the Fukushima plant remains unsecured, the impetus for AR Tech’s research and development in cable tray insulation has led the company to think in other terms.
“Now the job is to look at opportunities that exist elsewhere,” Vice President Bud Weisbart said. One idea is for a blanket that firefighters could crawl under when fires rage out of control. Another is the protection of property in forested areas prone to wildfires or for use in steel mills. AR Tech’s current approach is to spread the word.
“We know we have a product that can withstand extreme heat,” Weisbart said. “We are going to meetings like this to let people know about it, seeing if there’s an application. Is this something that would address what you might need or think about or collaborate with us about?”