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Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
Fire and Materials 2015 - 14th International Conference and Exhibition, Proceedings | Year: 2015

Heat release rate is the key property in fires. This survey investigates the effect of flame retardants on the heat released by key polymers. The polymeric materials were chosen based on two criteria: that they be used extensively in key applications (building/construction, furniture/furnishings, transportation or electrical/electronics) and that their intrinsic fire performance not be good enough for adequate fire safety. The following materials were chosen (in alphabetical order). ABS and/or other styrenics, including HIPS Cellulose or cotton fabrics Engineering thermoplastics (including polycarbonate) Epoxy resins EVA and/or other polyolefin blends and/or copolymers Flexible PVC LDPE Nylon and/or other polyamides Polyesters (including also PET fabrics) Polycarbonate Polypropylene Polystyrene Polyurethane (foam and thermoplastic polyurethane) Rigid PVC Wood (different species, if possible) A pair of publications in the 2014 Fire and Materials journal has gone into extensive detail on this subject and the present publication was designed to summarize the findings. Most of the studies reviewed here (well over 100) were conducted primarily in the initial 21st century years, and are, undoubtedly, of uneven quality. Moreover, many of the studies are also academic and not based on actual commercial products. Therefore the survey of new date should be used in combination with earlier studies, including particularly a seminal 1988 NBS/NIST study that focused on 5 materials made into simulated products. Some important observations can be developed: (1) the fact that a material has been "flame retarded" simply means that some amount of "flame retardants" has been added: such a system does not necessarily have proper fire performance, (2) the designation of a material as "flame retardant" (or even, more accurately, as "flame retarded") is a meaningless and misleading designation as it is not related to actual fire performance, (3) improvements in fire performance are typically intended to meet certain fire safety requirements and (3) flame retardants (individually or in combination) that can be efficient for a particular polymer can be useless for other materials. In some systems improvements in heat release rate of over an order of magnitude can be found. The key conclusion to be drawn from the work is that flame retardants will decrease heat release rates of polymers. However, it is essential that flame retardant systems be used for the correct application and in the proper proportions. Thus, the proper use of flame retardants will lead to lower fire hazard. © 2015 Interscience Communications Limited.

Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
22nd Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials 2011 | Year: 2011

The most important code requirements on reaction-to-fire safety for building products involve interior finish testing. In terms of floor finish, this testing has, and continues to be, done principally by means of the flooring radiant panel, in both continents. In terms of wall and ceiling interior finish, traditionally this testing was conducted in the US with the Steiner tunnel fire test. However, increasingly regulatory and research testing is conducted to assess heat and smoke release rate with room-corner tests. In both Steiner tunnel testing and room-corner testing, significant differences in fire test results can be obtained by variations in specimen preparation techniques and in mounting methods. In the European Union, the key test for interior finish is the SBI (Single Burning Item). This paper will present an update and indicate areas where added work is still needed. © (2011) by BCC Research All rights reserved.

Earl T.,GBH International
25th Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials | Year: 2014

Green construction is a major part of the global movement towards sustainability and environmental stewardship. A number of voluntary labels and guidelines have been developed, and continue to be developed and revised, to designate certain types of construction as more or less desirable from a "green" point of view. Many of these guidelines have the desirable effects of minimizing energy waste and increasing efficiencies. Unfortunately, such guidelines do not generally take into account fire safety, and some of them may unintentionally increase fire hazard and fire risk. In particular, some of the recommendations being made focus on material composition. A common focus of this type of recommendations is to advocate for the elimination of the use of flame retardants, often based on prejudicial information regarding their effects. Often, the organizations advocating for green construction do not have the expertise to fully appreciate how the changes to methods of building construction can impact fire safety. This work will discuss the impact which these guidelines are likely to have on fire safety, and in particular the use of flame retardants.

Hirschler M.M.,GBH International
25th Annual Conference on Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials | Year: 2014

This survey describes a series of ignition sources potentially applicable to assessing fire-test-response characteristics resulting from the ignition of electrical and electronic insulation materials or of electrical or electronic products containing such materials. This survey describes both flaming and non-flaming ignition sources, since the outcome of a non-flaming ignition can be the eventual flaming ignition of these materials or products. Non-flaming ignition sources include smoldering cigarettes, glow wires, hot wires and radiant heat sources. Radiant heat sources are often accompanied by a supplementary igniter, which can be a pilot flame. Flaming ignition sources include both premixed flames and diffusion flames. The overall characteristics of ignition sources being discussed include: 1. The intensity of the ignition source. This is a measure of the thermal insult onto the test specimen resulting from the combined conduction, convection and radiation effects caused by the ignition source. 2. The location of the impingement of the ignition source on the test specimen. 3. The duration of exposure of the test specimen and whether it is continuous or intermittent. 4. The orientation of the test specimen in relation to the ignition source. 5. The ventilation conditions in the vicinity of the ignition source and exposed surface of the test specimen. A variety of standard test methods, specifications and regulations have been issued (by organizations including ASTM, NFPA, ISO, IEC, IEEE, UL and FAA) that contain ignition sources used for electrical and electronic insulation materials and the products in which they are used. This survey describes such ignition sources and includes information on the standard method in which they were first described.

This is part of a project considering whether flame retardants affect polymer heat release, a critical issue to assess whether adding flame retardants decreases fire hazard. The work investigated the following. (1) Fire properties affecting fire hazard, confirming that heat release rate is the key fire property most strongly influencing fire hazard. (2) Ways to assess heat release and whether full-scale fire heat release rate can be predicted from small-scale test results, confirming that cone calorimeter and Ohio State University data are adequate to predict full-scale heat release. (3) Analysis of key 1988 NBS/NIST study comparing the fire hazard of flame retarded products versus non-flame retarded products for the same application. This confirmed that the study demonstrated that flame retardants lower fire hazard and that the levels of additives in the flame retarded products used were not excessive. (4) Review of studies investigating effects of flame retardants on various polymeric systems. The overall conclusion is that flame retardants does indeed improve fire safety (when used appropriately) primarily because they decrease heat release. Part 2 of the project (separately) considers the key polymers that need to be potentially flame retarded and reviews recent studies on effects of flame retardants on heat released by such polymers. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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