Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The work presented in this dissertation is based on the studies of flame retardancy performance of various formulations consisting of brominated flame retardants (BFRs: Saytex 8010 and Green Armor) and their synergist, antimony trioxide (Sb2O3) in high impact polystyrene (HIPS). Chemical flame retardants are incorporated in polymers to improve their flame inhibition for optimal applications in electrical and electronic devices, furniture, printers and more. These flame retardant polymer blends are studied using the Underwriters Laboratory vertical burn test (UL 94) and X-ray imaging techniques such as X-ray K-edge absorption tomography and X-ray grating interferometry. The UL 94 burn test is initially performed to assess the flammability behavior of flame retardant samples before X-ray imaging methods of burnt and pristine polymer blends. Because the UL 94 test bars are formulated with varying concentrations of a brominated flame retardant (Saytex 8010® or Green Armor®) and a synergist, Sb2O3 into a high impact polystyrene (HIPS), samples pass or fail the UL 94 plastics flammability test based on the burn time and other factors. Then, the X-ray imaging techniques are used to reveal internal features for the flame retardant performance during the burn. The Underwriters Laboratory 94 test bars are imaged with X-ray K-edge absorption tomography between 12 to 32 keV to assess the bromine and antimony concentration gradient across char layers of partially burnt samples. X-ray grating interferometry on partially burnt samples shows gas bubbles and dark-field scattering ascribed to residual blend inhomogeneity. In addition, X-ray single-shot grating interferometry is used to record X-ray movies of test samples during heating intended to mimic the UL 94 plastics flammability test. Key features such as char layer, gas bubble formation, micro-cracks, and dissolution of the flame retardant in the char layer regions are used in understanding the efficiency of the flame retardant and synergist. The samples that pass the UL 94 test have a thick, highly visible char layer, low bromine and antimony concentration in the char layer as well as an interior rich in gas bubbles. Growth of gas bubbles from flame retardant thermal decomposition is noted in the X-ray phase contrast movies.



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Committee Chair

Butler, Leslie G.

Available for download on Saturday, February 23, 2019

Included in

Chemistry Commons