Polyethylene terephthalate is halogen-free and flame-retardant

Paul Boughton

Federal-Mogul Corporation has developed what is believed to be the world's first polyethylene terephthalate yarn to meet both the halogen-free flame-retardant regulations and the "no flaming drip" requirement. Until now no commercially available, zero-halogen, flame-retardant polyethylene terephthalate has been able to meet this requirement, known as the UL 1441 VW-1 flame test. Federal-Mogul is now developing commercialisation plans to enable volume manufacture of fabrics made from the new material.
Fire in an enclosed space, such as an aircraft or a railway carriage, is extremely dangerous because occupants can die from smoke inhalation even before there is any danger from the flames. Flame-retardant materials are used to delay the spread of fire but, unlike Federal-Mogul's Polyethylene Terephthalate yarn, these typically contain halogenated substances that emit thick black smoke and toxic gases.
Polyethylene terephthalate yarn meets many of the processing and functional requirements for textiles used in interior vehicle trim and in wiring harness insulation that have applications in vehicles for land, water and air. International regulations pertaining to flame-retardant properties, however, include a requirement that "no flaming drips" are released when the material burns. Federal-Mogul's new polyethylene terephthalate yarn meets this requirement as well.
Ramzi Hermiz, senior vice president of Federal-Mogul Vehicle Safety and Protection, comments: "We see a substantial global market for Federal-Mogul's new flame-retardant material that offers an unprecedented level of protection and may be the first of its kind in the world. With a growing public transport infrastructure around the world, as well as the potential for its use in buildings and other stationary applications, we believe that adoption of this new Federal-Mogul technology could improve world-class safety standards and help save lives."
The innovation behind this breakthrough is the use of a combination of two carefully selected melamine-based flame-retardant materials. As the materials decompose they absorb heat, thereby cooling the adjacent burning material and forming a char that prevents burning drips. Constituents of the new material also vaporise, reducing the surface temperature by diluting the oxygen that would otherwise feed the fire.
Extrusion of the material into a continuous monofilament thread is made possible by a combination of proprietary additives and highly engineered compounding and extrusion processes. Federal-Mogul expects to create a new generation of exceptional flame-resistant products.
Jan Maiden, vice president of sales and engineering for Federal-Mogul Systems Protection, states: "We are experts in developing innovative systems protection technologies, and we are moving quickly to adapt this product to multiple industries. Our next step is to adapt this leading technology innovation to different mass-produced textiles."
For more information, visit www.federalmogul.com

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