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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Short Review of 20th BCC Flame Retardancy Conference, Stamford, June 2009

by Nicolas Bal and Guillermo Rein, University of Edinburgh.

The 20th Annual Recent Advances in Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Materials, was held in Stamford, Connecticut, on June 1-3, 2009. The venue was well chosen (as had been in previous years), specially for its good location near NYC, and nearby airports. The organization was flawless. In total, 35 papers were presented arranged in six sessions (General Papers, Halogen Flame Retardants, Nanocomposites, Industrial Applications, Environmental and Toxicity Issues, and Testing). The audience, about 70 people, came primary from the USA and Europe and a significant fraction were industry representative.

The conference had its two main strengths in the emphasis on the needs of industry, and the diversity of speakers, which allowed to see a broad range of points of view on flame retardants' future (fire, chemistry, new polymer formulas, regulations, toxicity...). However, the majority of the presentations focused on the detailed decomposition chemistry of retardant formulas in small samples (miligrams to grams) rather than on the burning behaviour at the real scale (~kilograms). Maybe, this is partially due to the historical focus of the retardant industry on passing the flammability tests rather than on real-world behaviour, which unfortunately seem to be significantly different.

The Fire Group at Edinburgh was represented by a invited paper (written by Guillermo & Nicolas) in the first session “General papers and reviews”. The talk, entitled “Solid ignition at high fluxes”, presented the numerical results of solid ignition to explain the unexpected trend in the time to ignition at high heat fluxes (up to 200 kW/m²) in PMMA samples. Results support that the mechanism causing this is in-depth radiation absorption.

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