The synergistic effects of some metal oxides on novel intumescent flame retardant (IFR)–thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) composites were evaluated by limiting oxygen index (LOI), vertical burning test (UL-94), thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), cone calorimetry, and scanning electron microscopy. The experimental data indicated that the metal oxides enhanced the LOI value and restricted the dropping of the composites. The IFR–TPU composites passed the UL-94 V-0 rating test (1.6 mm) in the presence of magnesium oxide (MgO) and ferric oxide (Fe2O3) at 35 wt % IFR loading, whereas only the MgO-containing IFR–TPU composite reached a UL-94 V-0 rating at 30 wt % IFR loading. The TGA results show that the metal oxides had different effects on the process of thermal degradation of the IFR–TPU compositions. MgO easily reacted with polyphosphoric acid generated by the decomposition of ammonium polyphosphate (APP) to produce magnesium phosphate. MgO and Fe2O3 showed low flammability and smoke emission due to peak heat release rate, peak smoke production rate, total heat release, and total smoke production (TSP). However, zinc oxide brought an increase in the smoke production rate and TSP values. Among the metal oxides, MgO provided an impressive promotion on the LOI value. The alkaline metal oxide MgO more easily reacted with APP in IFRs. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci, 2011
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