Many current flame retardant (FR) strategies for polymers contain environmentally harmful compounds and/or negatively impact processing and mechanical properties. In an effort to overcome these issues, a effective flame retardant nanocoating comprised of positively charged chitosan (CH) and anionic poly(vinyl sulfonic acid sodium salt) (PVS) was deposited onto flexible polyurethane foam using layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly.
This coating system completely stops foam melt dripping upon exposure to the direct flame from a butane torch. Furthermore, 10 CH-PVS bilayers (~30 nm thick) add only 5.5% to the foam’s weight and completely stop flame propagating on the foam due to the fuel dilution effect from non flammable gases (e.g, water, sulfur oxides, and ammonia) released from the coating during degradation. Cone calorimetry reveals that this same coated foam has a 52% reduction in peak heat release rate relative to an uncoated control. This water-based, environmentally benign nanocoating provides an effective postprocess flame retardant treatment for a variety of complex substrates (foam, fabric, etc.).