Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Novel coatings show great promise as flame retardants in polyurethane foam

Date:
August 3, 2011
Source:
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Summary:
Gram for gram, novel carbon nanofiber-filled coatings outperformed conventional flame retardants used in the polyurethane foam of upholstered furniture chairs, and mattresses by at least 160 percent and perhaps by as much as 1,130 percent.

Gram for gram, novel carbon nanofiber-filled coatings devised by researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Texas A&M University outperformed conventional flame retardants used in the polyurethane foam of upholstered furniture and mattresses by at least 160 percent and perhaps by as much as 1,130 percent.

The impressive test results, reported in the journal Polymer, suggest that significant fire-safety advantages can be gained by coating polyurethane foam (PUF) with a club-sandwich-like arrangement of thin layers containing carbon nanofibers and polymers. The upshot, says NIST researcher Rick Davis, is that the experimental coating seems to create the equivalent of a "fire-resistant armor" on the porous foam.

Ignition of soft furnishings account for about 5 percent of residential fires, and the consequences are disproportionately high. These fires are responsible for a third of fire-caused deaths of civilians and 11 percent of property losses due to fires in homes.

The flammability of mattresses is regulated by federal law. A complementary rule to regulate the flammability of upholstered furniture has been proposed recently.

Several organizations, however, have challenged the health and safety of some flame retardants designed to protect against soft furnishing fires. And, a bill pending in California would ban the use of certain halogenated flame retardants in that state.

Today, recipes for making PUFs result in foams in which fire retardants are embedded in the interior. In contrast, the experimental technology uses the carbon nanofiber fire retardant as a coating that covers all the nooks and crannies on the sponge-like PUF surface. The new approach, says Davis, should be attractive to PUF manufacturers because the surface treatment has the potential to deliver a low flammability PUF without major change to the foam manufacturing process, thus saving time and money.

The NIST-Texas A&M team coated square samples of commercially available PUF with four bilayers of a carbon nanofiber-polymer combination. The average thickness of the coating was about 360 nanometers, increasing the mass of the foam by only 3 percent. By themselves, the carbon nanofibers accounted for 1.6 percent of the foam mass. Since the carbon nanofibers are only in the coating, all the carbon nanofibers are clumped like matted whiskers within the top 360 nanometers of the surface -- assembled into the fire-blocking armor.

The team used a standard benchtop fire test to measure the fire performance of coated and uncoated PUF. The carbon nanofiber coatings reduced PUF flammability (measured as the peak heat release rate from an ignited specimen) by 40 percent. That result was more than 3 times better than achieved by putting the same carbon nanofibers in the foam (part of the foam recipe).

When compared at the same concentrations, the carbon nanofiber coating significantly outperforms three classes of commercially available flame retardants commonly used in PUF. Reductions in flammability achieved with the coating, according to the researchers, were 158 percent better than the reduction calculated for nonhalogens, 288 percent better than halogens, and 1,138 percent better than halogen-phosphorus flame retardants.

Additionally, the experimental coating "prevents the formation of a melt pool of burning foam, which in a real fire scenario, may further reduce the resulting fire threat of burning soft furnishings," the authors write.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yeon Seok Kim, Rick Davis, Amanda A. Cain, Jaime C. Grunlan. Development of layer-by-layer assembled carbon nanofiber-filled coatings to reduce polyurethane foam flammability. Polymer, 2011; 52 (13): 2847 DOI: 10.1016/j.polymer.2011.04.023

Cite This Page:

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Novel coatings show great promise as flame retardants in polyurethane foam." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110803102859.htm>.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). (2011, August 3). Novel coatings show great promise as flame retardants in polyurethane foam. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110803102859.htm
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Novel coatings show great promise as flame retardants in polyurethane foam." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110803102859.htm (accessed September 29, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

CERN Celebrates 60 Years of Science

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 29, 2014) CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, celebrates 60 years of bringing nations together through science. As Joanna Partridge reports from inside the famous science centre it's also planning to turn the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator back on after an upgrade. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

This 'Invisibility Cloak' Is Simpler Than Most

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) Researchers from the University of Rochester have created a type of invisibility cloak with simple focal lenses. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Corvette Can Secretly Record Convos And Get You Arrested

New Corvette Can Secretly Record Convos And Get You Arrested

Newsy (Sep. 28, 2014) The 2015 Corvette features valet mode – which allows the owner to secretly record audio and video – but in many states that practice is illegal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) Phonemakers who want to use Google’s software in their devices will have to stick to more stringent requirements. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins