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Nanocarbon-Based Flame Retardant Polymer Nanocomposites
Nanocarbon materials have attracted the interest of researchers due to their excellent properties. Nanocarbon-based flame retardant polymer composites have enhanced thermal stability and mechanical properties compared with traditional flame retardant composites.
The use of carbon materials has a long history. Many types of carbon materials have been produced, from cheap graphite to expensive diamond, as well as carbon black, which is commonly used in the rubber industry. The development history of nano-scale carbon materials is relatively short, but they have exhibited excellent properties to attract the research community. Whenever a new nanocarbon material is found, it introduces revolutionary changes to the field of materials science and technology. In 1985 , fullerenes were first discovered. Fullerene is a kind of 0-D nanocarbon material with free-radical trapping properties. In 1991 , a 1-D tubular carbon nanomaterial called carbon nanotubes was discovered. In 2004 , graphene, a 2-D layered nanomaterial of a single atom in thickness, was discovered and became relevant due to its excellent properties. All of these materials can be regarded as allotropes formed by a large number of carbon six-membered rings . In addition, there are other nanocarbon materials, such as carbon black and expandable graphite. Both have been used to prepare nanocomposites with strong mechanical properties, increased thermal stability, thermal conductivity, and electrical conductivity and flame retardancy .
Polymer materials are widely used in various fields because of their excellent properties. As an aspect to highlight, they are basically prepared by polymerization of organic compounds, so they usually have high flammability, which increases the risk of fire during their lifetime. Consequently, most of the polymer materials need to add flame retardants during the preparation cycle. Most of the traditional flame retardants are required to be added in higher amounts to achieve optimal flame retardancy properties in the basic polymer.
There exist two basic mechanisms to explain the flame retardant property, as illustrated in Figure 1. The first is the mechanism of the gas phase flame retardant that is related to the large number of active free radicals produced during polymer matrix combustion. These free radicals are necessary for the combustion chain reaction as well. Some flame retardants can capture free radicals, leading to the cutting off of the combustion chain reaction. Other flame retardants can produce inert gases, such as NH3, when they are decomposed. This fact permits us to dilute the oxygen and active free radicals, leading to a delay in the development of a flame. The second is the part of the flame retardant that can catalyze the formation of the carbon layer and strengthen it. The carbon layer formed on the substrate can block the contact of heat and oxygen with the underlying matrix material and reduce the diffusion of active free radicals so as to improve the flame retardancy. Most of the carbon nanomaterials can enhance the carbon layer and catalyze the formation of carbon, while others, such as fullerenes, also have the ability to capture free radicals .
2.1. Synergistic Flame Retardancy of Graphene
Graphene has high thermal stability properties together with physical barrier functions. These characteristics make the graphene have flame retardancy properties to a certain extent. Pristine graphene cannot make a polymer matrix reach proper standard levels of flame retardancy . Consequently, it is a common strategy to use graphene as a synergist in conventional flame retardant systems. We summarize the synergistic flame retardancy of graphene and its modified products in Table 1.
|Polymer||Loading of Graphene Nanomaterials||Type and Loading of Other Flame Retardant Additives||Highlights||Ref|
|EVA||2 wt%||ATH 36 wt%, MoS2 2 wt%||PHRR decreased from 1815 kW/m2 to 377 kW/m2|||
|PP||0.5 wt%||IFR2 4.5 wt%||PHRR decreased from 1025 kW/m2 to 140 kW/m2|||
|PI||5 wt%||MMT 10 wt%||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 55%|||
|EP||2.5 wt%||DOPO 2.5 wt%||PHRR reduced from 1194 kW/m2 to 396 kW/m2|||
|EP||7 wt%||Al2O3 68 wt%, MH 5 wt%,||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 39%|||
|PLA||0.5 wt%||phosphorus-containing flame retardant 15 wt%||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 29.2%|||
|PBT||0.3 wt%||IFR 20 wt%||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 25.4%|||
|TPU||0.25 wt%||MPP 14.75 wt%||PHRR decreased from 2192.6 kW/m2 to 187.2 kW/m2|||
The flame retardant synergistic effect of original graphene is limited. This is an important drawback that typically produces difficulties with meeting the flame retardant demand in most application scenarios. Nonetheless and as previously pointed out, an improved performance flame retardant can be prepared by combining graphene with other materials. Leng et al.  prepared a α-zirconium phosphate (α-ZrP)/cerium phosphate (CPO)/graphene oxide (GO) nanocomposite (ZCG) flame retardant. As shown in Figure 2, α-ZRP links graphene oxide and cerium oxide through hydrogen bonds to form a synergistic effect, which improves the dispersion of the flame retardant. Compared with the composites with 10 wt% APP, the LOI of the composites increased from 28% to 36% after replacing the same amount of app with 5 wt% ZCG. At the same time, without adding graphene oxide, the limiting oxygen index of the composites is lower than 36%, which fully proves the synergistic effect of graphene on flame retardancy.
2.2. Inorganic Hybrid Graphene
2.3. Layered Coating of Modified Grapheme
2.4. Surface Decoration of Graphene
The surface modification of graphene by various methods is also a very effective process that has attracted the attention of researchers and produced numerous studies. Depending on the different modification methods and modifiers, graphene-based composites with different properties can be obtained. Zinc hydroxystannate boxes (ZHS) are a kind of inorganic flame retardant that acts as a smoke suppressor. Li et al.  prepared a new flame retardant called GNS-ZHS-M2070 by covalent grafting of polyether amine (M2070) onto the surface of zinc hydroxystannate box-decorated graphene nanosheets (GNS).The GNS-ZHS-M2070/EP-12% composites show excellent flame retardancy. In addition, zinc-hydroxystannate-modified graphene composites were prepared by the hydrothermal reaction of zinc hydroxystannate and graphene oxide in an autoclave. The pHRR of the GNS-ZHS-M2070/EP-12% composite was obviously lower than that of pure epoxy resin. The combination of zinc hydroxystannate and graphene can significantly reduce the amount of smoke emitted during polymer combustion .
Through a variety of components capable of modifying graphene’s surface, it is possible to increase the matrix’s material performance up to a level that complies with different demands mainly related to flame retardancy, mechanical properties, and smoke emissions. For instance, graphene was modified by hexachlorocyclotriphosphate (HCCP) and nickel hydroxide to improve the flame retardant properties in both the gas and condensed phases. In virtue of the low addition amount (3 wt%), the loss of mechanical properties is usually small. Furthermore, some researchers have used polyaniline and nickel hydroxide to perform surface modification in the same line as described above to increase the flame retardant properties. Compared with others, composites with these two flame retardants have better smoke suppression performance, which is mainly due to the excellent flame retardancy of nickel hydroxide and grapheme .
Another important method for modifying the surface of graphene is based on a hydrothermal process. This method is easy to implement and permits us to prepare phosphorus and nitrogen-modified graphene by the hydrothermal reaction of compounds containing phosphorus and nitrogen.
In addition to the above-mentioned surface modification, ZIF-8 was prepared on the surface of graphene oxide by a hydrothermal method. ZIF-8 can catalyze the formation of carbon, which can further improve the barrier effect of graphene, reducing the amount of smoke released as well.
2.5. Organic Phosphorus-Containing Flame Retardant Grafted onto Graphene
The preparation of organophosphorus-modified graphene-based flame retardants by the graft reaction of phosphorus-containing compounds and graphene containing oxidation energy groups on its surface has gradually become an attractive research topic . Table 2 summarizes the flame retardant performance of some polymer nanocomposites based on DOPO-modified graphene.
|Matrix||Types of Grafting Reaction||Main Performance||Ref.|
|4,4-bismaleimidophenylmethane/2, 2-diallyl bisphenol A (BDM/DBA) resins||Vinyl trie-thoxy silane and (3-isocyanatopropyl)-triethoxysilane as bridging agents||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 32.8%|||
|PUA||vinyltrimethoxy silane and (3-Isocyanatopropyl)-triethoxysilane as bridging agents||49% reduction in PHRR observed in cone calorimetry|||
|PLA||Reaction of 2,5-dihydroxyphenol with an acyl chloride bond||83% reduction in TSR observed in cone calorimetry compared with neat PLA|||
|CF/EP||Reaction of formaldehyde-modified DOPO with an acyl chloride bond||PHRR of composites
reduced by 38.9% compared with neat CF/EP
|PS||Paraformaldehyde, hydroxyethyl acrylate, and POCl3 as bridging agents||39.1% reduction in PHRR observed in cone calorimetry|||
3. Carbon Nanotubes
3.1. Pristine Carbon Nanotubes
|Matrix||Flame Retardant System||Flame Retardant Performance||Ref|
|PA66||intumescent fire retardant (IFR)||pHRR and THR were reduced by 76.4% and 76.5%, respectively|||
|PS||intumescent fire retardant (IFR)||pHRR decreased by 30% and LOI: 34.1%|||
|TPU||intumescent fire retardant (IFR)||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 30.1%, pHRR and THR were reduced by 92% and 76%, respectively|||
|PA6||APP||UL-94: V-0 rating, pHRR decreased by more than 30%|||
|silicone rubber (SR)||DHCP-PA (a high phosphorus content flame retardant system)||UL-94: V-0 rating, LOI: 28.4%|||
3.2. Surface-Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes
4. Fullerene and Other Nanocarbons
5. Summary and Perspective
The entry is from 10.3390/molecules26154670
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