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Recent Advances in Flame Retardant Polymer Nanocomposites.

pdf icon Recent Advances in Flame Retardant Polymer Nanocomposites. (637 K)
Gilman, J. W.; Kashiwagi, T.; Morgan, A. B.; Harris, R. H., Jr.; Brassell, L. D.; Awad, W. H.; Davis, R. D.; Chyall, L.; Sutto, T.; Trulove, P. C.; DeLong, H.

Fire and Materials 2001. 7th International Conference and Exhibition. Proceedings. Interscience Communications Limited. January 22-24, 2001, San Antonio, TX, 273-283 pp, 2001.


nanocomposites; flame retardants; cone calorimeters; gasification; UL 94; flammability tests; thermogravimetric analysis; char


A new approach to address the ever increasing demand for higher performance flame retarded products has recently focused on use of mica-type clays nano-dispersed in commodity polymers. These "nanocomposites" exhibit the unusual combination of reduced flammability, in the form of lower peak heat release rates, and improved physical properties. However, the details of the fire retardant mechanism are not well understood. In October of 1998 a NIST-industrial consortium was formed to study the flammability of these unique materials. The focus of research within this consortium was to develop a fundamental understanding of the fire retardant (FR) mechanism of polymer clay nanocomposites. We report here on some of the results of the first year of this study; we focus our discussions on the results for polystyrene (PS) a polymer system commonly used in flame retarded applications such as information technology (IT) equipment. The most important aspect of the nanocomposite approach is the combined improvement in both flammability properties and physical properties. However, methods for preparation, which supply fully optimized nanocomposites, are still under development. An important issue in this regard is processing stability of the treated clays. We also report on our recent efforts to address this issue through development of new thermally stable imidazolium-treated montmorillonite.