United States-based SDL Atlas has introduced the ThermaRate™ Thermal Barrier Test Apparatus for measuring the burn injury protection provided by fabrics in protective clothing for first-responder, military and industrial applications. The instrument can replicate the effects of fabrics that are close to fires or extreme heat sources but not necessarily engulfed in a fire, as simulated by the Thermal Protective Test (TPT) described in National Fire Protection Association NFPA: 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.
ThermaRate’s computer-controlled system features a closed-loop controlled infrared radiant heat source, shutter, fabric sample holder, heat flux gauge and skin simulant sensor. A PC-based data acquisition system includes burn injury algorithms. The user selects the radiant heat flux level at the fabric sample, the irradiation time, and the air gap between the fabric sample and sensors; and can choose to use a skin simulant tester or heat flux gauge output in the burn injury algorithm. The data acquisition system records and stores the temporal data and provides graphical outputs during and after the test. A green/red indicator on the computer screen indicates whether the fabric has passed or failed the test.
The instrument may be used for research and development as well as for repetitive use in quality assurance applications.