Awards 2016

Getting nanotech to make PVC more fire-resistant

It’s still a work in progress, but researcher Henrik Petersen knows after years of lab tests that nanoclays can increase fire resistance in PVC. Working with INOVYN and the vinyl flooring company Tarkett, Petersen discovered better barrier properties in nanocomposite materials.

Nanoclays “will improve mechanical properties and promote the formation of a char layer when exposed to fire,” says Petersen, now a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. “Nanocomposites have almost unlimited potential as future supermaterials.

In his doctoral thesis from 2017, Petersen thanks INOVYN for “both knowledge transfer and practical help,’’ in aiming to ‘’evaluate the long-term behaviour of these novel materials.

Among his findings: montmorillonite (MMT), the most commonly used nanoclay for processing with polymers, “has the potential to be an important filler with regard to flame retardancy.” Its effect as a smoke suppressant was evident in tests showing “37% lower total smoke released” than from other materials.

Petersen also noted the need for further testing and development. “There is still potential to substantially improve the properties of such PVC nanocomposites,” he says. In other words: watch this space.