Living on the edge

Providing fire protection in Antarctica

Buildings all over the world use our fire protection coatings. We’re even helping to keep scientists safe in Antarctica.

Blazing a trail

How do you protect a structure destined for the most hostile environment on Earth? That was the challenge facing the British Antarctic Survey while constructing their new Halley VI Research Station.

Positioned on the Brunt Ice Shelf (where temperatures can plummet to -55°C), Halley VI is remarkable for its revolutionary design. Made up of 26 pods – arranged in eight modules – it sits on ski-fitted hydraulic legs which allow the station to mechanically climb out of the snow if it gets too deep. The modules can also be towed, independently, to a new location.

But even though it’s located in nature’s freezer, fire remains a hazard, because there’s no naturally occurring liquid water to hand. Which made the choice of AkzoNobel’s Interchar 212 epoxy intumescent fire protection coating an obvious one.


“The product was appropriate enough to be ‘self-selecting’, which simply means that nothing else will do,” explains David Kinniburgh, Business Development Manager (Fire Protection) for AkzoNobel’s International brand.

“It’s corrosion-resistant, maintenance-free, will easily survive the Antarctic temperatures and, in the event of fire, it undergoes a chemical change so that its intumescent properties insulate and protect the structural steel from collapse.”

Truly global

Halley VI isn’t the only building in the Antarctic region to feature AkzoNobel’s coatings. The company also supplied products for South Africa's SANAE IV research base and the E-base (education station) operated by environmentalist Robert Swan’s 2041 organization at Bellinghausen on King George Island.