The use of halogenated flame retardants in plastics is steadily declining because they are volatile, pose an environmental risk and are difficult to recycle. Microcapsules, fibers and melamine resin foams represent some of the chief alternatives.
As successfully as the endless variety of plastics have established themselves on the market, these multifaceted materials show another face when it comes to fire. They melt and feed the flames like the petroleum from which they were ultimately produced. As a preventative measure, a variety of flame retardants are added to plastics, yet this introduces a number of problems. Additives often alter the mechanical properties and electrical insulating effect of plastics. Especially brominated and chlorinated additives migrate through the material and can damage metal and electronic components. Moreover, they represent a health risk and interfere with the recycling process. Yet fire safety regulations require the use of flame retardants.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP is developing combustion-resistant and self-extinguishing plastics. Last November members of the working group, directed by Dr. Gerald Rafler, received the Friedrichs Prize for new technologies, along with 15,000 Euro in prize money, for their innovations and development of new materials. The prize is awarded by the German Federation of Industrial Cooperative Research Associations "Otto von Guericke" AiF. The new materials are already being tested and prepared for market introduction by the Austrian company Agrolinz Melamin GmbH.
Dr. Johannes Ehrlenspiel | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
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More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
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Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
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The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
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Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
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