Tried & Tested Nomex®: A Fabric That Offers Thermal Protection in Extreme Situations

Pioneered by global chemical conglomerate DuPont, Nomex® fabric has been an industry leader for over half a century. As one of the few certified South African manufacturers of Nomex® garments, MB Workwear continue to unlock the possibilities of flame retardant garments using Nomex® fabric technology’s renowned thermal protective properties. By incorporating this technology into their garments, which they manufacture at their ISO and SABS accredited factory, MB Workwear provide workers in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry with superior quality protective workwear.

Inherently flame retardant, Nomex® fabric is comprised of a 93% meta-aramid, 5% para-aramid and 2% carbon/nylon anti-static make-up. Its unique weave structure of aromatic rings and conjugated bonds has been specifically engineered to offer inherent thermal properties on a molecular level. While treated fabrics – which use fibre, polymer or yarn that has been coated with a flame retardant substance – may lose their efficacy, the inherent flame retardant properties of Nomex® offer permanent protection, even after heat exposure or repetitive washing.

Bruce Glenday, Business Development & Marketing Executive for MB Workwear, discusses the complex makeup of Nomex fabric. He says, “Nomex® is comprised of synthetic fibres that are poor conductors of heat. These fibres, called aromatic polyamide or aramid fibres, do not ignite in normal oxygen levels and will cease to burn once the flame has been removed from the surface of the fabric”.

Essentially, the molecular structure of Nomex® ensures that it doesn’t melt or drip when exposed to flames. Instead, the fabric carbonises and thickens to minimise burn injury and protect the wearer.

“With our Nomex® garments, the aramid fibre swells to form a protective barrier between the flame and the wearer,” explains Glenday. “This barrier remains flexible until it cools, enabling the wearer to escape when necessary”.

Nomex® has also been extensively tested in intensive Thermal Protection Performance (TPP) assessments. TPP tests, which measure the performance level of a fabric when exposed to heat and flames, have shown that Nomex® fabric offers increased protection of up to 35% when compared to chemically treated fabrics.

“The fabric’s excellent TPP results combined with the fact that it is also up to 40% lighter than cotton and cotton blended fabrics and offers excellent range of motion, comfortability and moisture management, has resulted in Nomex® being a popular choice for fire fighters and OGP workers around the world,” says Glenday.

While this advanced flame retardant fabric may have originally been developed for applications at the extreme edge of human performance, such as F1 racing suits, fighter jet flight suits and military wear, MB Workwear’s use of the technology is far more practical. Using Nomex® technology, MB Workwear offer a fire retardant workwear range that brings workers comfort and protection from heat, flames and flash fires in some of the world’s toughest industries.