An Exploratory Study on a High-Energy Flux (HEF) Calorimeter to Characterize Flammability of Advanced Engineered Polymers: Phase 1 - Ignition and Mass Loss Rate

Report No. ARL-TR-2102
Authors: Tewarson, Archibald; Chin, Wai; Shuford, Richard
Date/Pages: October 1999; 103 pages
Note: Prepared in collaboration with Factory Mutual Research Corp. , Norwood, MA
Abstract: This report describes a newly designed high-energy flux (HEF) calorimeter for the flammability evaluation of high fire resistant plastics exposed to high heat flux typical of combat field scenarios and large-scale fires. Small samples are exposed to heat fluxes as high as 150 kW/m2 in co- flowing air with oxygen concentration in the range of 0-100%. A pilot flame ignites the vapors, a load cell measures mass loss, and an FTIR spectrometer identifies and quantifies the concentration of products generated in the tests. Standard relationships routinely used in the FMRC flammability apparatus are used to obtain the release rates of heat and products and fire parameters associated with ignition, combustion, and fire propagation. Polymers with high fire resistance (two halogenated and four high-temperature polymers) and low fire resistance (six ordinary polymers) have been tested at 50, 100, and 150 kW/ m2 in normal co-flowing air. The HEF calorimeter data at 150 kW/m2 was found useful in comparing the differences between the high fire-resistant halogenated and high-temperature polymers. Literature data for the combustion of polymers with and without fire retardants and inorganic materials as fillers and nanocomposites have been analyzed. The analysis indicates that for the realistic evaluation of the effectiveness of fire retardants and nanocomposites, it is necessary to expose the polymers to high heat flux values typical of large-scale fires (120-150 kW/m2).
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: October 1, 1999