University of Valencia Edem business school refurbished with an all composite cladding system

An EN fire rated, modern new building exterior using Crestapol® 1212 Resin for the 2,050 moulded parts and 15,000 metres of FRP pultruded profiles used in the cladding system.

Originally founded in 1499, the University of Valencia, located in the ancient coastal city on the Mediterranean Sea, is a thriving institution with three campuses, where elegant 15th century architecture blends with more modern buildings. The EDEM Escuela de Empresarios Business School, affiliated to the university, is a private non-profit foundation, set up in 2002 to support the business sector training future business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in the Valencian region. As part of a major expansion of the EDEM Business School, three harbor buildings which were formerly part of the Port of Valencia have been combined, redesigned and totally refurbished inside and out, now with a modern new façade manufactured from a fire rated all composite system.

The new EDEM building, which was officially opened in September 2015 in time for the new academic year, was designed by the Spanish architect D. Jose Marti, principal architect of R Studio Arquitectura, based locally in Valencia. Marti’s design vision has created a modern new learning and study environment, with open spaces, natural light and panoramic waterfront views across the harbor. The impressive new 7000 sq. metre façade, which covers the entire length of the original three buildings, is constructed from a lightweight composite system using Scott Bader’s Crestapol® 1212 high performance acrylic resin for all parts. The new façade comprises of 15,000 metres of FRP pultruded profiles and 2050 moulded parts with 100 different shape and size combinations; each composite part had to pass the EN UNE 13501-1 Cs2d0 fire standard. The new exterior building design has areas with traditional flat wall panel cladding, but is largely made up of elliptical shaped slats in front of the new expanse of floor to ceiling windows. The horizontal and vertical composite slating system used in different sections of the new façade gives a ‘shutter like’ appearance, providing both natural daylight and shade, so preventing the building from overheating during the very hot summer months.

EN Fire Rating

The European standard EN 13501-1: Reaction to Fire provides a number of performance criteria to measure the fire characteristics of building products. These cover spread of flame and contribution to fire, as well the generation of smoke and the production of burning droplets. The EN UNE 13501-1 Cs2d0 fire rating level is a demanding one for exterior building parts, where s2 only allows medium smoke generation, and d0 requires no material droplets within 600 seconds. To achieve this stipulated EN rating for each of the moulded and pultruded parts used in façade design, Miraplas carried out extensive production trials and fire tests on a number of fire retardant (FR) resin systems currently available. Miraplas concluded from these trials that only Scott Bader’s Crestapol® 1212 high performance acrylic resin had the performance properties and processing flexibility to be cost effectively used for all of the different manufacturing methods. A critical factor was the high filler loading of 170 phr by weight of Alumina trihydrate (ATH) needed to pass the EN UNE 13501 fire specification. As such, Crestapol 1212 was specified and used to produce all of the 2050 moulded parts as well as the 15,000 metres of GRP pultruded profiles needed for the EDEM building façade.

Multiple Production Processes

The production of all the moulded components for the new façade was carried out by Miraplas S.L. at its purpose built 44,000 m2 factory located in Monforte del Cid close to Alicante, in southern Spain. The company has a long established track record in fabricating complex shaped FRP parts for Spanish building projects, which has grown into a significant part of its business alongside its more traditional business manufacturing large GRP tanks and related parts used in waste water treatment, water purification and desalination plants. The diverse range of part sizes and shapes required Miraplas to use three different moulding processes to manufacture filled, glass fibre composite parts with both monolithic and sandwich laminate FR specifications.

The three production methods used by Miraplas were: hand lay-up; RTM light; and compression moulding. A total of 1200 flat sandwich cladding panels, 30mm thick, in various lengths and widths, each with the same cored laminate design, with ATH filled Crestapol 1212 resin, a rigid 25mm polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation core and ROVICORE™ FR glass fibre reinforcements in the sandwich outer skins were formed using both RTM light and compression moulding processes. Around 800 elliptical ‘L’ shaped vertical support slats were produced by RTM to the same sandwich laminate specification. The remaining 50 GRP parts used to cover sections of the structural steel building frame and provide mechanical fixings points for the GRP sandwich cladding panels and slats, had a conventional monolithic glass fibre reinforced specification, but again had to be EN fire rated, so all of these hand lay-up moulded parts had Crestapol 1212 170phr ATH filled as the specified resin.

For Miraplas, being able to use the same resin throughout the project was a critical success factor for this project. There were significant shop floor productivity gains from being able to rapidly mould such a very large number of parts due to Crestapol® resins rapidly curing at ambient temperatures, as well as being able to confidently make parts which will meet both the mechanical properties and FR performance specifications. Mr Antonio Mira, General Manager, Miraplas S.L. explained: “Being able to use Crestapol for this major project with so many different parts, whatever the production process, was a big help for productivity and gave us increased confidence that each of the 2050 parts would meet the EN fire rating and still achieve the lightweight specification and mechanical properties needed for this project. Miraplas has worked with Crestapol 1212 on other building façade projects and we know we can produce complex shaped lightweight parts which have excellent long-term performance.”

Subcontracted Pultruded Profiles

The 15,000 metres of pultruded profiles, also required in a variety of different dimensions and profile shapes, were subcontracted to Polymec, S.L., based in Murcia and Tecnipul Composites S.L. located in Barcelona. Polymec and Tecnipul are leading Spanish pultruders, established for over 15 years, which specialise in manufacturing carbon and glass fibre composite profiles, supplied for a variety of rail, building and infrastructure construction projects in Spain and across Europe, including hotels, railway stations, bridges, and public buildings. Both companies have extensive experience of using Crestapol 1212 and 1214 pultrusion resin grades to produce ATH filled fire rated FRP pultruded profiles, specified for many building projects where price is critical due to the key productivity advantage of a significantly faster haul-off speed compared with typical pultrusion grade thermoset resins due to Crestapol resins exhibiting very rapid cure.

Wider FR Application Areas

Depending on the process and grade, FRP parts can be produced with Crestapol resin loaded to as high as 200 phr of ATH filler to achieve a range of stringent fire, smoke and toxic fumes (FST) standards specified not only for buildings, but also for rail, metro and other public transportation applications, including where FRP parts must meet the new EN 45 545 fire, smoke and toxicity European regulation for railway vehicles, which became effective in 2016.

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