Fire safety in polymers is critically important with products such as textiles and consumer goods, as well as materials used in construction, aerospace, transportation, and furniture. Additives used as anti-dripping and flame-retardant agents impose acute human health issues and have negative environmental impacts. With a focus on developing additive-free solutions, we used multilayer coextrusion to fabricate layered polyethylene/polypropylene (PE/PP) films and investigated the effect of a layered morphology on dripping and burning rates. The experimental results for multilayered PE/PP samples were compared to control groups of melt blended PE/PP samples. The multilayer configuration provides two significant advantages: 154% delay in the time to the first drip and up to 87% reduction in the number of drips compared to the value for the melt blended samples with no additives. PE/PP blends with up to 2 wt % polytetrafluoroethylene, a commonly used anti-dripping agent in the industry, showed only 85% delay in the time to the first drip and about 60% reduction in the number of drips. We discovered a linear relationship between film thickness and burning rate, which allows for the use of the volumetric burning rate to normalize the effect of film thickness. No benefit in the burning rate was observed when comparing multilayered structures and conventional melt blended architectures or blends with PTFE. Annealing studies and transmission electron microscopy at areas close to the combustion zones confirmed that higher extensional viscosities induced by the layered structures and morphological changes due to the layer breakup play an important role in reducing dripping. By combining the first drip time and overall drip numbers, a parameter, "dripping index", was defined to establish a fire safety map to simplify material comparisons. This study demonstrates that a multilayer film geometry can provide an additive-free solution to yield control over fire safety parameters in polymers.
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© 2021 American Chemical Society.
- fire resistance
- flame spread
- multilayer polymers