Has anyone heard that when new Saturn vehicles are on fire that chemical called lexon will melt, and in the liquid form it will kill you? Thanks!
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Thread: Saturn Problems????
05-19-2003, 08:34 PM #1
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- Nov 2002
- ID, USA
05-19-2003, 11:40 PM #2
Saturn uses Lexan not Lexon. Lexan is a Polycarbonate Polymer. More specifically it is a synthetic thermoplastic polymer. Lexan is the trade name for the polycarbonate and it is considered a combustible material.
Although Lexan does not exhibit a sharp melting point but it does soften gradually over a wide range of temperatures. The melting point is about 310 degrees (F). However, if it is exposed to a small source of ignition and the small source is removed, it will not continue to burn.
BUT! It can burn in a fire creating dense toxic smoke. The Molten plastic can cause severe thermal burns. ē Fumes produced during melt processing may cause eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation. Severe over-exposure may result in nausea, headache, chills, and fever.
Polycarbonate (Lexan)has 250 times the impact strength of glass and 30 times the impact of acrylic. Thats why more and more vehicles have more and more Lexan.
Other Applications for Polycarbonate (Lexan) are stuff like Recordable CDs and CD-Rs ,Car Headlights, Housings for Electric Shavers and Hairdryers, Helmet Visors for Motorcyle and Race Car Drivers, Laptop Computers,Electronics, Cellular Phones, Bullet Resistant Glazing, Eyeglass Lenses, Microwave Safe Dishware
It should be known that there are other "Brand Names" for Polycarbonate as well, here are the ones I know of :Makrolon,Calibre,
Merlon and of course Lexan.
The 2003 Saturn L-100 has Side AND rear windows made of Lexan.
I hope this is sort of what you were looking for.
Below is a Photo of an Saturn/L-100
Last edited by NB87JW; 05-19-2003 at 11:51 PM.
05-20-2003, 12:02 AM #3
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- Nov 2002
- Puyallup, Wa.
Donnelly, what you describe sounds very similar to a warning I heard from Bob Brown (formerly of Holmatro) at one of his new vehicle technology classes a few years ago. The honeycomb structured plastic the makes up the front and rear bumpers (don't recall the name of the material)will give off phosgene when burning (very bad stuff to breath), but after it's extinguished hydrofluoric acid is present at the surface.
So after your car fire, the tow truck driver is trying to hook up to tow it away and gets HFl on his skin. The acid has an affinity for bones(calcium) and will work its way up through the body, causing death if not treated.
If I remember a rapid initial treatment is putting your exposed hand in a latex glove filled with calcium chloride. Seems a garbage truck operator died a few years ago from HFl he contacted in someone's dumpster, bad stuff. Any hazmat techies out there to confirm?
05-20-2003, 06:41 PM #4
Kevin,That's why you wear gloves around "burners".You can get phosgene from burning refrigerant too so keep that in mind.I wouldn't get TOO concerned about what little acid would remain from the meltdown mostly because the medium the majority of us use on vehicle fires is water and lots of it.Damage of the type you're describing would more often be found in the industrial/mfg. sector where CONCENTRATED acid is used.Refuse handles could be exposed if illegal dumping occured.Always best to dress up,play safe,and wash up when you're done.T.C.
05-21-2003, 01:33 PM #5
I thought it may have been the lexan he had heard about. But if it was the Bumper Absorber material (polypropylene) then you are so right (again) that it does offgas Phosgene. As far as the hydrofluoric acid goes as a residual I have not heard too much about that myself. Can you(or anyone reading this) dig up more on it? I'd love to see what you (or others) have heard.
Ps: By the way Kevin, Congrats on another win this year in Seattle. Part of my team had last minute scheduling conflicts so we couldn't make it. Next year...
05-21-2003, 02:41 PM #6
- Join Date
- Oct 2002
So, if the Saturn has Lexan side and rear window, how do you break the glass? A window punch will probably not work.
05-21-2003, 05:17 PM #7A window punch will probably not work."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
05-22-2003, 03:20 AM #8
Most of us don't carry the tools that are "most" effective in cutting the Lexan (polycarbonate ). But, nowadays most of us do (or should) carry reciprocating saws with various blades and speeds. These saws are the most used in the field for these windows as are the spreaders and cutters. (note: polycarbonate can melt when cutting is done too fast)
Approach it like it was a metal window (if that makes sense). So, if you are confronted with polycarbonate windows, you may want to leave them intact and move on to the next task, trying to remove them may waste valuable time. Unlike glass windows, polycarbonate will not fragment like tempered safety glass. It may also give greater rigidity of the overturned vehicle. If access is required through the polycarbonate window, hydraulic tools may be your quickest means of entry. Speaders can be used to pry the windows open and the cutters will have no problem slicing through the material. Fortunately for us polycarbonate does not have the same characteristics as we have seen with other plastics, in that will not spring violently when released from a compressed state.
Interestingly too, auto manufacturers have more and more keen interest in Polycarbonate ("PC" in the trade) because it weighs half as much as a typical glass window. Thus Cutting pounds improves gas mileage and also helps lower the center of gravity (CG) in SUVs and minivans. A lower CG helps reduce the potential of a rollover crash.
And as we know, the majority of all fatalities in SUV crashes were linked to rollovers.
I hope this is answered your question without getting to far off track.
Below is a list of recommendations based on tests performed at a facility where they make the stuff.
Effective : Router tip; single straight flouted cutter
Router tip; double straight fluted cutter
Spiral carbide cutter
5" Starrett hole saw
Somewhat effective: Reciprocating saw with various blades
Ineffective : Circular saw with carbide blades
Jig saw with various blades
5 inch grinder with 4.5 dry diamond blade
Pneumatic air hammer with various cutting tips
Windshield saw with standard stock blade
Spring loaded center punch
CO2 & hammer
Totally Ineffective : Excaliber glass cutter
Last edited by NB87JW; 05-22-2003 at 03:25 AM.
05-22-2003, 06:24 AM #9
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
Polycarbonate's biggest enemy is Acetone. The windscreens are covered in a variety of vacuum applied silicone type materials to prevent scratching of polycarbonate - it is a very soft material. To get in through a rear window, put deep score marks in a shape that will allow crew to enter the vehicle. Pour or paint acetone over the score marks, the acetone will very quickly attack the polycarbonate turning it to milky colour and make it brittle. All you need to then do is use a sledge hammer and knock out the panel you have created.
05-22-2003, 02:00 PM #10
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
- Grand Blanc Mi U.S.A.
WE USE A "ROTO-ZIP" IT HAS A WIDE VARIETY OF BITS AVAILABLE FOR CUTTING INTO, THROUGH, AROUND METAL, PLASTICS ALMOST ANYTHING. THE ONLY DRAWBACK IS I DON'T THINK THEY MAKE IT IN A CORDLESS VERSION YET?
05-23-2003, 02:55 PM #11
We actually used my personal Rotozip in training a week or so ago and it worked great. We will be adding that to our bag of tricks any day now. The only thing we are hung up on is corded or cordless? I know the obvious benefits of cordless, but I just need real life measurement on battery life and tool power for the cordless version.
LEADLO -- FYI, the link to the cordless version is as follows:
06-11-2003, 04:39 PM #12
Pics of Lexan in action?
First post. You guys are a wealth of knowledge. Thanks for contributing!
Second, I've got a visualization of Lexan being damaged from what I've seen in NASCAR etc..
If anyone has pics of a production vehicle with the stuff involved in a wreck, I'd love to take a peek.
Randy Adams.SRFD905 - Serving since 1998
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