Foamed concrete protects T5’s vital artery

Nearly 500m3 of foamed concrete from Propump Engineering Ltd is protecting the security and integrity of one of the world’s busiest international airport terminals. With up to 35 million passengers passing through it each year – that’s around 12,000 bags an hour – Heathrow Airport’s state-of-the-art Terminal 5 baggage handling system is at the very heart of the airport’s smooth operation.

Chosen for its excellent insulating properties, the lightweight (900kg/m) foamed concrete was pumped below floor level to guard a multitude of critical electronic cables. Filling the void around the wooden shell encasing the lifeblood of Heathrow’s biggest bag handling facility, foamed concrete offers protection from both flame and excessive high temperatures. In the unlikely event that access is required to the cables, the porous concrete mix is easy to excavate and can simply be dug out.

Well suited to applications where fire is a risk, foamed concrete is extremely fire resistant. In addition to offering prolonged fire protection, the application of intense heat, such as a high energy flame held close to the surface, does not cause the concrete to spall or explode as is the case with normal dense weight concrete.

Set within a dense configuration of steel framework that could not be disturbed, access on site was extremely limited. Working to a severely restricted and controlled timeline to ensure all trades operated smoothly, Propump applied the concrete in 13 stages using a flexible pipe that could reach through the steelwork to the cables.

Now complete, the Terminal 5 cabling protection works keep vital cables beneath the baggage handling operation secure at the world’s busiest international airport, helping to ensure it continues to run reliably.

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