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flame retardant finishes for textiles

The field of flame retardancy has witnessed a vigorous development of new technologies and new products and materials to meet the challenge of the needs of new industries-such as computer, electronics and telecommunication industries. Flame retardants are also used in health care settings, Intravenous pumps, hospital beds Hospital curtains.. An additional challenge is the growing awareness of environmental issues and the stiffening demands of consumer safety, which has been put forward by governments and public agencies. New flame-retardant systems are needed to meet the new product and market demands.

New regulations, standards and testing methods, as well as instruments, are essential for assessing and defining these needs. These new regulations present new challenges to the flame-retardancy industry. With new fibers /blends rapidly changing the economic situation, today manufacturer needs to be fully aware of new regulations and the products and processes that will meet them. Companies that adopt the latest technology will have the edge in providing superior products with the best balance of properties at the lowest possible price Synthetic polymers have largely replaced the use of wood, Glass and other metallic materials in our homes, offices, automobiles and other public areas. These synthetic materials are often petroleum based plastics that easily ignite, spread flames quickly and release toxicants when burned.

Fire safety is a significant cause of property damage and of death. Standards are therefore set for electrical appliances, textiles upholstery and many other materials to minimize these losses. To meet fire safety standards, products made of synthetic materials are modified with flame retardant chemicals that inhibit the ignition and spread of flames. Recently, there has been a great deal of interest in providing effective flame retardants for normally flammable substrates. For example, there is great interest in the development of flame retardant finish on synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, polypropylene etc, without disturbing the desirable physical characteristics of the fibers. Textiles consist of highly ignitable materials and are the primary source of ignition. They contribute to rapid fire spread; however, reduction of ignitability can be obtained by

1: Use of Inorganic materials {Asbestos, Glass etc}

2: Through chemical treatment with FR {Flame Retardant chemicals}

3: Through modification of the polymer.

Function of a Flame Retardant:

Flame retardants are chemicals are applied to fabrics to inhibit or suppress the combustion process. They interfere with combustion at various stages of the process e.g. during heating, decomposition, ignition of flame spread. Fire is gas phase reaction. For a substance to burn, it must become a gas. As with any solid, a textile fabric exposed to a heat source experiences a temperature rise. If the temperature of the source (either radiative or gas flame) is high enough and the net rate of heat transfer to the fabric is great, pyrolytic decomposition of the fiber substrate will occur. The products of this decomposition include combustible gases, non combustible gases and carbonaceous char. The combustible gases mix with the ambient air and its oxygen. The mixture ignites, yielding a flame, when its composition and temperature are favorable. Part of the heat generated within the flame is transferred to the fabric to sustain the burning process and part is lost to the surroundings.


Application on Textiles:

One of the most preferred processes of applying FR on cotton is the "Precondensate"/NHprocess. This is an application of one of several phosphoniums "precondensates," after which the fabric is cured with ammonia, then oxidized with hydrogen peroxide Precondensate is the designation for a Tetrakis-hydroxymethyl phosphonium salt pre-reacted with urea or another nitrogenous material. The amount of anhydrous sodium acetate is approximately 4% of the amount of precondensate used. Some precondensates are formulated along with the sodium acetate. Softeners are also added along with precondensates.

The pH of the pad bath should be approximately 5.0.The amount of flame retardant required depends primarily on fabric type, application conditions, and test criteria to be met. Screening experiments should be conducted to determine the minimum application level for a fabric. Application of FR to fabric can be accomplished with conventional padding, padding with multiple dips and nips, followed by 30 to 60 seconds dwell gives good results. A critical factor in the successful application of precondensate/NH3flame retardant is control of fabric moisture before ammoniation. Generally, moisture levels between 10% and 20% give good results.


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