Researchers Develop New Fire-Retardant Coating
Researchers out of Texas A&M University are reportedly developing a new flame-retardant coating using renewable, nontoxic materials that are readily found in nature, according to the university.
Department of mechanical engineering professor Jaime Grunlan led the research (partnered with researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, led by Lars Wagberg), which was recently published in Advanced Materials Interfaces, and says that successful development and implementation of the coating could provide better fire protection to different kinds of materials.
“These coatings offer the opportunity to reduce the flammability of the polyurethane foam used in a variety of furniture throughout most people’s homes,” Grunlan said.
"The uniqueness in this current study lies in the use of two naturally occurring nanomaterials, clay nanoplatelets and cellulose nanofibrils. To the best of our knowledge, these ingredients have never been used to make a heat shielding or flame-retardant coating as a multilayer thin film deposited from water."
Grunlan says that benefits from using this method include the coating's ability to create an oxygen barrier to plastic films and better fire protection at a lower cost than other, more toxic ingredients that are traditionally used
To test the coating, researchers applied it to a flexible polyurethane foam exposed it to fire using a butane torch to determine the level of protection the compounds provided.
“The nanobrick wall structure of the coating reduces the temperature experienced by the underlying foam, which delays combustion,” Grunlan said. “This coating also serves to promote insulating char formation and reduces the release of fumes that feed a fire.”
The next step is to transition the method into the industry for further development.