Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Carbon Nanofibers Cut Flammability of Upholstered Furniture

11.12.2008
Carbon, the active ingredient in charcoal, is normally not considered a fire retardant, but researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have determined that adding a small amount of carbon nanofibers to the polyurethane foams used in some upholstered furniture can reduce flammability by about 35 percent when compared to foam infused with conventional fire retardants.

Laws require mattresses and upholstered furniture sold in California and used in public spaces such as hotels and offices be treated with fire retardants or barrier fabrics to minimize fire fatalities and injuries and to cut damage costs. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the total burden of fire in the United States was about $270 billion in 2005.

Ten years ago, NIST scientists found that nanoclays could be used as an effective fire retardant additive, but researchers have been seeking alternatives because nanoclay flame retardants do not prevent the melting and dripping of polyurethane foam when exposed to a fire. This molten foam accelerates the burning rate by as much as 300 percent. “It also creates so much smoke that it is a life-safety hazard,” said Jeff Gilman, leader of the Materials Flammability Group in the Building and Fire Research Laboratory.

Researchers added carbon nanofibers to the foam because they knew that adding nanoparticles to a polymer normally increases the viscosity, so it doesn’t flow as easily. “The carbon nanofibers help prevent the foam from dripping in a pool under the furniture and increasing the fire intensity,” Gilman said. Studies of the foam after the experiments showed that carbon nanofibers seemed to create a thermally stable, entangled network that kept the foam from dripping.

NIST fire researchers have traditionally used upholstered furniture to study its flammability, but in this study, they developed a small-scale technique for evaluating the effect of dripping and pooling on foam flammability. About the size of a slice of toast, the foam samples were treated with one of six combinations of carbon nanofibers or conventional clay flame retardants. The foam “toast” was suspended vertically over a pan, ignited, and the amount of drip was measured. The foam with carbon nanofibers did not drip.

“These small-scale experiments correlate well with the fire behavior of larger foam samples and are easier and less expensive to conduct,” said Gilman. “The small-scale tests will allow us to cost-effectively perform more experiments and help us find an optimal fire retardant faster.”

“Carbon nanofibers are still more expensive than conventional flame retardant materials, but because the price is decreasing and so little needs to be used, they could soon be an affordable and effective option,” Gilman explained.

NIST fire scientists will continue to study the mechanisms that reduce flammability and dripping and work with chemical companies, nano-additive suppliers, flame retardant suppliers and foam manufacturers to test new blends of foam and carbon nanofibers to improve flame retardant material. Additionally, new work is planned to develop sustainable, environmentally friendly fire retardants using cellulosic nanofibers and testing other innovative fire retardant approaches.

Evelyn Brown | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nist.gov

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells
11.12.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires
07.12.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>