Eco-Friendly Fire Retardant Foams

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Introduction

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde's Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry have developed eco-friendly fire retardant polyurethane foams. The main benefits of the technology include increased effectiveness in the prevention and spread of fire and the use of environmentally friendly non-toxic materials.  The technology is relatively inexpensive in comparison to existing formulations, and is readily adoptable into existing manufacturing processes.  These foams can be used in many industries including furniture and soft furnishings, construction, packaging, automotive and aeronautics. 

Many industries use products and materials produced using flexible polyurethane foam that, in the event of a fire, can ignite and burn rapidly, thus spreading the fire.  Effective fire retardant foam formulations are available commercially but often contain additives that are of environmental concern or are potential health hazards.  There is a requirement within the industry to find alternatives to the currently used toxic materials for flame retardancy that also provide improved performance levels at a competitive price. 

Technology

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde are making foam more fire retardant, partially through the use of nano-clay particles.  The clay material is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. These new foam formulations help to prevent or lessen the spread of fire, reducing the cost and impact of fires, and potentially saving lives.  

Key Benefits

  • Non-toxic and environmentally friendly with no regulatory concerns
  • Could reduce number of fire-related deaths and injuries
  • Positive social impact by reducing the cost and impact of fires
  • Relatively low production costs in comparison to existing foams
  • Readily adoptable into existing manufacturing processes
  • Potentially applicable to flexible, rigid and spray foams

Markets and Applications

This technology has potential in any industry which uses foam in insulation or 'comfort' applications including:  

  • Furniture and soft furnishings
  • Packaging 
  • Automotive insulation and furnishing
  • Aeronautics
  • Electronics manufacturing
  • Building and construction
  • Structural mouldings
  • Spray insulation foams

Licensing and Development

The technology is protected by a patent application filed by the University of Strathclyde as PCT/GB2005/002600. Contact is welcomed from organisations interested in developing, licensing or exploiting this technology. Please contact ri@strath.ac.uk quoting reference number 1684.

This project has received assistance from the Proof of Concept Programme managed by Scottish Enterprise.  The Proof of Concept Programme supports the pre-commercialisation of leading-edge technologies emerging from Scotland's universities, research institutes and NHS Trusts.