Cone Calorimeter Available to Aid in Iowa Manufacturer Test Standards

All building materials must meet a specific test standard in order to move forward with manufacturing. This standard, the ASTM-E84 Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials, is used to determine how various materials act upon ignition. It is a costly, complex, and large-scale standard that has been the norm. However, a new method has been introduced, and it’s shaking up how the E84 test is run.

The cone calorimeter is the most widely used instrument to study fire behavior of materials because it provides abundant information with relatively small sized samples. They are rarely found in the United States, but the Laboratories for Functional Textiles and Protective Clothing (LABS) at Iowa State University have acquired one and are looking for building material,

furniture material, and insulation material manufacturers who may be interested in a cone calorimeter’s expedited testing capabilities.

Because of the large scale and complexity of the E84, the cone calorimeter can use less of the same material to inform the possibility of passing. This process will save time, resources, and expenses while trying alternative fire retardants for the best performance before attempting the E84 standard.

“Our lab can conduct tests according to many standards,” says lab manager Dr. Rui Li, “but we aren’t certified to provide a certification to the customer. So, we are best suited to offer pre-standard test assurance and customized test services for research and development purposes.”

Industrial innovation is integral to the CIRAS mission, and further questions about the implementation of similar resources can be directed to Mike O’Donnell at

For more information about the cone calorimeter and other test capabilities offered by LABS, contact Dr. Rui Li at or visit the LABS website at