Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Carbon Nanofibers Cut Flammability of Upholstered Furniture

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:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>