Biocomposites contain natural fibres and/or resins derived from plant sources. Therefore they are combustible and this presents a significant barrier to wider application.
The FRBioComp project aims to produce biocomposites with fire retardant qualities for use in construction and mass transportation applications.
Partners in this Innovate UK-funded project are NetComposites, Sam Weller & Sons, Exel Composites, Drake Extrusions Tilsatec and the University of Bolton.
FRBioComp is investigating intrinsically fire retardant biobased materials (such as polyfurfuryl alcohol resins) and treating fibres/fabrics or matrix polymer resins with environmentally friendly flame retardants.
Continuous treatments of fibres/fabrics and/or resins with flame retardants are being explored, while fire retardant biopolymer fibres incorporating synergistic flame retardants and polymer layered silicates are also being developed.
Biocomposites’ weight-saving is key in transport applications — delivering reduced emissions, rail track wear and stopping distances. Lightweight panels allow for faster buildings construction. Inherent fire retardance is an essential safety feature.
Smart fire protection, when deployed in marine and multiple occupancy buildings (for example), can inform emergency services as to the progress and development of a fire and how best to fight it, enabling them to prioritise resources in order to save lives and assets.
Various strategies to develop flame retardant flax/polypropylene (PP) and flax/polylactic acid (PLA) composites have been adopted:
- Applying flame retardants (FR) to flax/PP or flax/PLA woven fabrics using conventional pad-dry technique commonly used for textiles;
- Use of FRs in thermoplastic matrix by developing FR-PP or FR-PLA fibres for potential use in woven fabric and use of FRs in furan resin as additives; and…
- Development of composites by either introducing FR on fibres, in polymer matrix, or both components.
Selected solutions have shown great commercial potential for development through the consortium.