Asbestos Alternatives

Asbestos Alternatives

Fire protection is an inherent requirement in many industries, and it is essential for the safety of buildings. For most of the twentieth century, a major solution to fire protection and safety was asbestos. Asbestos was very much seen as a wonder mineral. Unfortunately, while this material can offer heat resistance up to 800°C, it is also potentially lethal to humans. But asbestos alternatives exist.

Consequently, the same industries, and more, which were once dependent on asbestos for fire protection and fire resistance are now having to find safe asbestos alternatives.

As specialists in fire protection, Elmelin provides specialist alternatives to asbestos, using products based on mica and microporous technology.

Why Asbestos is Lethal

HSE points out that asbestos kills around 5,000 workers each year in the UK. When materials containing asbestos are disturbed or damaged, they release fibres into the air. If inhaled, these fibres can cause diseases which can be fatal.

image of newspaper article talking about asbestos for blog by Elmelin

The effects are not immediate, as these diseases take time to develop. However, once they are diagnosed, it is usually too late to do anything about them.

The diseases that asbestos can cause are:

Mesothelioma – a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and is almost always fatal

Asbestosis – a scarring condition of the lung, which causes shortness of breath and can be life-threatening

Asbestos-related lung cancer – the same as lung cancer caused by smoking

Pleural thickening – the lining of the lung swells and thickens, usually occurring following heavy asbestos exposure.

The problem is that asbestos is found in a great many places, including industrial, commercial and residential properties. It has been commonly used as an insulating material, has also been included in the manufacture of ceiling tiles, textured coatings, corrugated cement sheets, floor tiles and pipework. Asbestos is also sometimes present in brake pads, gaskets, electrical wire insulation and furnaces.

Asbestos is versatile, which has contributed to its widespread use. While its raw fibres are silk-like in their softness, manufacturing processes can also produce asbestos that is rock-solid.

Anyone working with asbestos should take the necessary precaution to protect themselves, but the best precaution of all is to find a safe asbestos alternative.

Asbestos Alternatives

Various new technologies have emerged in the wake of the growing awareness of the risks associated with asbestos. These include: polyurethane foams; flour fillers; thermoset plastic flour; cellulose fibres; and amorphous silica fabrics.

Asbestos itself had so much of a universal application that it has proved impossible to find a single substitute. However, some asbestos alternatives are more versatile than others.

image of asbestos for blog by elmelin on asbestos alternatives

One solution for high temperature insulation that, like asbestos, is mineral-based and has a wide variety of uses, is mica. Unlike asbestos, mica is safe.

Mica is a rock-forming silicate material and used with microporous technology, it provides a broad range of insulation and fire protection solutions across many different sectors and industries.

Like asbestos before it, mica can be used in various densities, from thin but durable sheets to cut shapes for tooling applications and manufactured components.

High Temperature Insulation

Microporous materials containing mica are effective in high temperature insulation for different industries, including foundry and steel, continuous processing and transport.

Here, there is an ongoing requirement for heat resistant materials for insulation and specialist functions such as heat shields. Mica and microporous insulation materials offer all the benefits of asbestos with none of the risks.

Fire safety in industry cuts across sectors, and requires solutions that are highly functional and adaptable.

In many instances, people will come into close contact with high temperature insulation materials as part of their daily working lives, so providing a safe but technically viable asbestos alternative is a fundamental requirement for safety in the workplace.

Fire Protection

Traditionally, asbestos has been widely used in construction as an essential component in ensuring building have the right degree of fire protection.

This has, in effect, turned asbestos into a hidden threat, with it being used in so many different construction materials.

image of fire protection for blog by Elmelin on asbestos alternatives

One aspect of fire safety in buildings is passive fire protection. This involves measures designed to contain a blaze and stop it from spreading throughout a structure.

Microporous technology now provides linings for fire doors and lift doors, to help with passive fire protection measures. These insulation boards are thin but hardwearing, and offer excellent resistance to fire and heat.

Fire safety is a continual requirement for a great many industries. These industries can no longer rely on asbestos as a solution. What they can do, however, is explore the versatility of mica, mica-based products and microporous technology as contemporary solutions to fire protection, insulation and fire safety.

Are You Looking for Asbestos Alternatives?

Elmelin specialises in providing manufactured solutions for  high temperature insulation, thermal control, heat resistance and fire protection. We provide both off-the-shelf and bespoke solutions, depending on your needs.

Please call us on +44 20 8520 2248, email, or complete our online enquiry form. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Mica in Sheets: Phlogopite Mica vs Muscovite Mica

Mica in Sheets: Phlogopite Mica vs Muscovite Mica

Mica is a naturally occurring mineral and there are 37 varieties. However, the two we work with are phlogopite, or green, and muscovite, or white, mica.

These two forms of mica come in sheet form, in two grades, MFSSP (phlogopite) and MFSSM (muscovite). Each of these two forms of mica has qualities that make it suitable for different applications, used by a broad range of industries.

Our phlogopite and muscovite mica sheets are available in flexible or rigid grades, depending on their required use.

Slip Plane Characteristics of Mica Roll

Slip Plane Characteristics of Mica Roll

Induction furnaces provide an energy efficient solution to processing for the foundry and steel industry. The induction heating of metal involves applying heat to a coil of copper wire that surrounds a non-conductive crucible, containing the material to be melted down.

An alternating current runs through the copper wire coil, which creates a rapidly reversing magnetic field that can penetrate the metal. This penetration then induces circular electric currents inside the metal, eventually breaking down its resistance.

The advantage of the induction process for heating metal is that it avoids contamination of the material through use of any other external heat source, such as burning fuel.

However, due to the intense heat involved, the crucible lining must be able to withstand high temperatures, to maintain consistency and productivity. This is where the slip plane characteristics of mica roll as a furnace lining are so critical to foundry processes.

Thermal Management in Electric Cars

Thermal Management in Electric Cars

Momentum is building in the UK for the take-up of electric cars. Earlier in 2018, the Committee on Climate Change told ministers that three-fifths of all new cars must be electric by 2030, to meet greenhouse gas targets. More recently, sales in electric vehicles have surged in reaction to rising fuel prices, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Mica: Commonly Asked Questions

Mica: Commonly Asked Questions

Mica is a naturally occurring mineral with inherent insulation properties that make it ideally suited to a broad range of industrial and commercial applications. As a product, mica cuts across sectors, supporting specialised industries, such as foundry and steel, but also in our homes and in everyday use in consumer appliances.


Mica is versatile but also, to an extent, hidden. It is often the case that people are unaware of it, or of its properties. Here, then, we answer some commonly asked questions about mica.


What is High Temperature Insulation?

What is High Temperature Insulation?

What is high temperature insulation? High temperature insulation is an insulating substance that protects from extremely high temperatures and is used in manufacturing, cars, electrical appliances, and tooling, amongst other things.

Many different industries rely on high temperature insulation to carry out essential processes, manufacture products and components, and ensure optimum, economic performance.


Insulation is vital for preventing the transfer of heat. By doing this, it reduces the amount of energy that is needed to raise temperatures, and it protects that are adjacent to the heat source from damage.

Is Mica Environmentally Friendly?

Is Mica Environmentally Friendly?

While mica brings key environmental benefits to a wide number of industries, is mica environmentally friendly when it comes to its mining, processing and disposal?

Mica is a naturally occurring mineral and its two main forms used in various industrial and commercial applications are phlogopite or green mica, and muscovite or white mica.

As this blog post on mica in its natural form explores, extracting mica requires mining it. As with all forms of mining, there are risks and environmental issues that come with these processes.