Polymers used in cooling towers are available in varying degrees of flammability risk, which, historical standards such as ASTM E84 may not accurately represent fully. This paper will discuss the science behind the inherent burning characteristics of different polymers, including how they burn and how flame retardants work to minimize the burning characteristics, as well as the ignition characteristics with respect to cooling towers in real world scenarios outside of a laboratory. There are many flammability standards used worldwide which will be reviewed as part of the scope of this paper. Cooling tower component manufacturers are using increasingly varied formulations of polymers in the manufacture of their products so it is prudent to analyze if current testing standards provide the complete picture of a cooling tower's susceptibility to initiating and propagating a fire event. By this analysis the attempt can be made to more thoroughly address deficiencies in engineering specifications that may not tell the whole story regarding the magnitude of risk associated with utilizing certain polymer formulations within cooling towers.

15-21: Study on the Combustion of Polymers within Cooling Towers

  • Chris Bowman and Jia Shen, Brentwood Industries