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State-of-the-art production facilities. Image courtesy of ROCKWOOL Ltd.

The Rockwool UK Story – Leading Manufacturers of Stone Wool Insulation for Fire Protection

ROCKWOOL® is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of stone wool insulation and one of the UK’s most respected brands of insulation for fire protection and firestopping applications.

The company makes and supplies a full range of smart and sustainable insulation products for the construction industry based on innovative stone wool technology. Understanding the highly impressive product range, invariably begins with a history lesson.

It sounds improbable but the raw ingredient for the product is a 200 million year old rock. Basalt is actually a base rock from when the Northern Hemisphere was first laid down.

Around the Pacific Rim and Hawaii in particular, volcanic activity produces violent eruptions of dust pumice and strands of a material which the locals refer to as Queen Peles hair. It is formed as the molten lava falls through a cold air draft. These strands are nature’s version of what we now recognise today as stone wool.

It was around 1900 that scientists started to look more closely at the material as a potential insulant for a range of applications. The clever part was in creating their own mini volcano in factory conditions, to produce the wool in commercially viable quantities.

By the late 1930’s stone wool factories were established in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Their success in countries where the need for efficient insulation is paramount was rapid and by the 1970’s they were looking to expand in Europe. Today, the UK manufacturing plant, near Bridgend, in South Wales produces stone wool on a state of the art line and packaging facility.

The Bridgend plant started in September 1979 and with subsequent additions to the lines and major investment in the whole manufacturing and storage processes, it is now one of the most efficient production facilities of its type in the world.

Firstly, the base rock is graded and crushed along with other carefully selected ingredients, such as, recycled stone wool to form a raw material. This charge, as it is known, is then melted in a cupola furnace at a temperature in excess of 1500.C. As the liquid rock pours from the furnace, nature’s process is recreated. Lava flow is directed into a chamber where it is spun and transformed into rock strands and stone wool.

The spun strands are then mixed with a binder. Trillions of these strands are collected to form a matt which is then cured. Cut to various lengths and thicknesses it is then prepared and packaged to form an extensive range of products for a wide variety of applications.

From their Bridgend base and office in Hammersmith, ROCKWOOL has customer support, sales and technical teams serving the whole of the UK and Ireland. Standing by its core values of service and specialist knowledgeable staff, the company provides great service and value to all its customers, with effective and efficient delivery to an extensive distribution network.

Building a sustainable future and the commitment to improve the environment is at the heart of the business. ROCKWOOL is a Green Compass Scheme accredited member, following a successful and rigorous environmental audit against PAS402:2013.

The Green Compass Scheme, developed by Constructing Excellence in Wales, in conjunction with UKAS accredited inspection bodies, provides independent verification of the performance data reported by waste management organisations.

The accreditation marks a validation of ROCKWOOL efforts to improve business efficiency, achieve a sustainable future and meet its corporate social responsibility goals. PAS 402:2013 requires a waste resource management organisation to report how it conducts its waste management activities and the landfill diversion and materials recovery rates it achieves. ROCKWOOL is subject to a stringent evaluation, assessing its environmental, quality and health and safety performance, practices, procedures and policies as part of this assessment.

FIREPRO® SoftSeal accommodates movement in services. Image courtesy of ROCKWOOL Ltd.

FIREPRO® SoftSeal accommodates movement in services. Image courtesy of ROCKWOOL Ltd.

ROCKWOOL, fire stopping and fire protection
ROCKWOOL in the UK provides a wide range of insulation products for both fire stopping and fire protection applications.

As ROCKWOOL stone wool tolerates temperatures of up to 1000°C and has been awarded the highest possible European classification: A1 non-combustible, it provides vital fire protection in buildings, keeping people safe, as well as minimising damage to valuable assets.

ROCKWOOL Fire Protection products, in the event of a fire, are designed to remain stable and slow the spread of flames. The  products are fire-safe and help to protect the building’s load-bearing structure, buying valuable time for occupants to safely escape, thereby protecting lives and investment.

These products can be used as an effective fire barrier in a range of building applications, such as, a fire shield for structural steel members, cavity barriers for concealed spaces, and a fireproof cover for pipes and ducts. To ensure compliance, ROCKWOOL Fire Stopping and Fire Protection products and systems must be installed in accordance to the manufacturer’s installation guidelines.

To stop fire spreading, UK Building Regulations insist on effective compartmentalisation, where fire, smoke and gasses must be kept for as long as possible where they have originated. ROCKWOOL Fire stopping solutions ensure that the fire resistance of protected walls, floors and roofs isn’t compromised by services or voids.  Their products ensure that cables, pipes, trunking, or ductwork, or the voids that they pass through, don’t provide the weak link through which fire can spread.

A favourite within this product range would be the company’s Ablative Coated Batt, available in 50mm and 60mm thicknesses. These batts are designed to act as an airseal barrier to re-instate the fire resistance and acoustic performances of concrete floors, masonry walls and dry wall systems when voids have been created for the passage of services. It can be used with all types of services including pipes made of steel, cast iron, copper, polypropylene (PP), high density polythene (HDPE), PVC and ABS; along with all sheathed cables up to 80mm and supported cable bundles up to 100mm.

ROCKWOOL in the UK is also well known for its comprehensive range of complimentary fire stopping products for use in conjunction with FIREPRO® Ablative Coated Batt, such as Intumescent Pipe Collars, Wraps, Sealants, Coatings, Pillows and Compounds.

FIREPRO® Softseal at Firex
As a part of its FIREPRO® range of fire protection products, ROCKWOOL recently unveiled the new SoftSeal system at Firex. SoftSeal is a flexible, firestopping solution particularly suited to service penetrations and linear joints, where high levels of movement need to be accommodated.

This CE marked solution is proven to accommodate movement of +/- 25%, SoftSeal can be used for both vertical and horizontal applications. SoftSeal comprises a 80Kg/m3 density stone wool strip pre-coated with a specially formulated SoftSeal Flexible Coating, which is also available in 5l tubs for making good on site and coating of the adjacent substrate. Comprehensively tested the system offers two types of coated strips, firstly the SoftSeal Linear Joint Seal which is used for linear movement joints and can also be used as a ‘head-of-wall’ barrier to extend the fire resistance and acoustic performances of masonry walls that finish at suspended ceiling height. Secondly the SoftSeal Coated Strip is used to reinstate the fire resistance and acoustic performance where voids have been created for the passage of services.

The SoftSeal system includes ancillary products to complement the SoftSeal Coated Strips, including SoftSeal Flexible Acoustic Intumescent Sealant and SoftSeal High Expansion Intumescent Sealant.

All SoftSeal Strips are supplied measuring 1200mm x 200mm x 100mm. SoftSeal Linear Joint Seal has been tested to the dedicated fire resistance standard BS EN 1366-3 with the SoftSeal Coated Strips being tested to BS EN1366-4, both are and classified to EN 13501-2. The ROCKWOOL FIREPRO® SoftSeal System can be installed into service penetrations as a stand-alone seal for openings up to 1000mm x 1000mm, or, alternatively, as part of a larger Ablative Coated Batt seal of 2 layers to accommodate movement of services. As a Linear Joint Seal, SoftSeal is suitable for linear joint widths of up to 300mm.

“The ROCKWOOL story in the UK is rooted in innovation, sustainability and a focus on developing insulation products that are fit for purpose,” says Warren Dudding, Marketing Director, ROCKWOOL Ltd, UK. “Our specialist range of firestopping products help architects, contractors and developers conform to current fire regulations. Fire stopping and penetration sealing ensures that walls, floors and roofs retain their fire resistance, even where voids exist or services have been installed.”

For more information, email www.rockwool.co.uk

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