My watch list
my.chemeurope.com  
Login  

Non-toxic flame retardants

Empa

This image shows polyurethane foam under an optical microscope. The flame retardant has no effect on the structure of the foam.

25-07-2013: Synthetic materials made from organic polymers usually burn very well due to their high carbon content; when turned into foams, they ignite even more easily -- and, depending on their chemical compositions, they produce toxic gases such as hydrogen cyanide or carbon monoxide. For this reason, polyurethane foams and other similar products have to be treated with flame retardants. These foam materials are widely used in upholstered furniture and mattresses, as insulation and packaging materials and as expanding spray foams.

Conventional halogenated flame retardants such as tri(chloropropyl) phosphate (TCPP) or some polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) are suspected of being harmful to health and the environment: a number of these substances are extremely persistent and accumulate in the environment, have hormone-like effects and are even thought to be carcinogenic. Non-harmful replacements are therefore called for. These are exactly what Empa researchers have developed in conjunction with Swiss company FoamPartner within the scope of a project sponsored by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI).

Healthier, more environmentally friendly and with no additional cost

The novel flame retardants are organic phosphorus-containing compounds, so-called phosphoramidates. The Empa researchers synthesised several of these substances (which differ from each other in terms of the type of amine substituents attached to the phosphorus) and added them to the polyurethane foam in increasing concentrations. First results indicate that the flame retardants did not have a negative effect on the foam manufacturing process. As a result, conventional agents that are harmful to health may soon be a thing of the past. The research results have recently been accepted by the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research and authorised for publication.

Facts, background information, dossiers
More about Empa
  • News

    Synthesis of structurally pure carbon nanotubes using molecular seeds

    For the first time, researchers at Empa and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research have succeeded in "growing" single-wall carbon nanotubes (CNT) with a single predefined structure - and hence with identical electronic properties. And here is how they pulled it off: the CNTs "ass ... more

    Nanocellulose sponges to combat oil pollution

    A new, absorbable material from Empa wood research could be of assistance in future oil spill accidents: a chemically modified nanocellulose sponge. The light material absorbs the oil spill, remains floating on the surface and can then be recovered. The absorbent can be produced in an envir ... more

    No nano-dust danger from façade paint

    After 42 months the EU research project «NanoHouse» has ended, and the verdict is a cautious "all clear" – nanoparticles in the paint used on building façades do not represent a particular health risk. In the course of a «Technology Briefing» Empa researchers discussed these results with sp ... more

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE