After spending many years investigating char formation as a means to enhance thermal and fire stability of polymers, the group is now beginning to think that condensed phase processes alone are not sufficient and that we need to combine either nanocomposite formation or Friedel-Crafts cross-linking with the use of conventional vapor phase fire retardants, likely phosphorus compounds, in order to develop the most efficacious systems. This requires that one make multiple combinations of conventional fire retardants with condensed phase systems in order to determine the ideal combination and this has led us to the use of high-throughput techniques, otherwise known as combinatorial chemistry, in order to more efficiently study the systems.
The Building and Fire Research Laboratory, BFRL, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, has been a leader in this regard and you are referred to the BFRL web page for information on their approach. Our approach is to prepare a collection of samples, the library, and then to ignite these and to determine the time to extinguishment and, qualitatively, the amount of smoke generated and the size of the fire. A short video will show the high throughput apparatus in action.