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Keywords:

  • polymer flame retardancy;
  • microcombustion calorimetry;
  • polymer nanocomposites

Abstract

Through the use of microcombustion calorimetry several polymer nanocomposite, flame retardant (FR), and polymer nanocomposite + FR systems were screened for flammability performance. The use of this technique allowed for the creation of small batch (less than 50 g) epoxy formulations as compared to 400–500 g needed for cone calorimeter testing of epoxy + fiberglass panels. The results from the microcombustion calorimeter screening suggested that the system with the best flammability performance was a combination of organophosphonate and zinc borate, and not one of the polymer nanocomposite systems. This best candidate was then scaled up and fabricated into a fiberglass-reinforced composite which was further tested by a cone calorimeter. This paper shows some of the correlations between the microcombustion and cone calorimeter results for this single sample, provides some reasons for why the polymer nanocomposite samples did not provide the best results in flammability reduction, and suggests some caveats when using microcombustion calorimetry as the only screening tool for flammability. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.