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Char Enhancing Approaches to Flame Retarding Polymers.

pdf icon Char Enhancing Approaches to Flame Retarding Polymers. (1278 K)
Gilman, J. W.; Kashiwagi, T.; Harris, R. H., Jr.; Lomakin, S. M.; Lichtenhan, J. D.; Bolf, A.; Jones, P.

Chemistry and Technology of Polymer Additives. Chapter 8. 1999, Blackwell Science Inc., Malden, MA, Ak-Malaika, S.; Golovoy, A.; Wilkie, C. A., Editor(s)(s), 135-150 pp, 1999.


char; flame retardants; additives; silica gel; flammability; cone calorimeters; heat release rate; zirconium oxide; preceramics


Additives that increase the amount of charcoal-like residue or carbonaceous char that forms during polymer combustion are very effective fire retardants (FR). Our research efforts focus on reducing polymer flammability by promoting char formation. Our approach to char promotion is to investigate additives which enhance charring, and to gain a fundamental understanding of the additives' mechanism of char formation with the goal of optimizing their performance. Char formation reduces the amount of small, volatile polymer pyrolysis fragments, or fuel, available for burning in the gas phase; this in turn reduces the amount of heat released and fed back to the polymer surface. The char also insulates the underlying polymer, due to its low thermal conductivity, and reradiates incident energy away from the polymer surface. The char must also function as a mass transport barrier, by physically delaying the volatilization of decomposition products and/or chemically reacting with decomposition products. The physical structure of the char is important in this role. Thick, foamy char appears to be more fire resistant than brittle, thin char. This char-enhancing approach is most successful when the polymer chars rapidly and early in the burning process. To be useful, the charring process must occur at a temperature above the polymer processing temperature, but below the temperature where rapid gasification of the polymer to combustible fuel occurs. This chapter is an overview of several new char enhancing approaches to reducing the flammability of polymers.