New Approaches to Non-Flammable Polymer Materials and Composites by Prof. E. Bryan Coughlin, University of Massachusetts Amherst



New Approaches to Non-Flammable Polymer Materials and Composites

Prof. E. Bryan Coughlin

Polymer Science and Engineering Department

University of Massachusetts Amherst

Thursday, May 12, Webinar at 6:00 PM Pacific time


The hydrocarbon-rich composition of many classes of high volume polymers, such as polyolefins, polyurethanes, and polyesters, makes them highly flammable and poorly suited for installation in confined environments from which rapid egress during a fire would be difficult. Flame retardants, generally in the form of molecular additives, are blended with polymers to produce finished materials that achieve acceptable performance in flammability tests. Such flame retardants typically consist of halogenated molecules (i.e., bromine and/or chlorine-containing) or inorganic salts. Halogenated molecules are problematic from the standpoint of toxicity and associated legislation restrictions, while inorganic additives require high weight percent loadings that compromise the physical properties of polymers. The drawbacks to each of these additive approaches are thus significant and drive the discovery of polymers that are inherently flame retardant due to their mechanism of degradation. Moreover, the polymers generated should have processing characteristics and mechanical properties that make them suitable for further evaluation as materials suitable for a variety of application. Several new classes of patented halogen-free materials have been synthesized and tested that exceed the stringent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) objectives in terms of flammability, and afford some of the lowest measured heat release rates of any hydrocarbon polymers ever made produced. Past accomplishments have yielded impactful results.* Progress toward further advancing fire-safe materials will be presented.

* “How advanced plastics saved lives on Asiana Flight 214” Plastics Today July 9, 2013

Speaker Background:

E. Bryan Coughlin studied chemistry at Grinnell College, and received his B. A. in 1988. Upon the completion of his Doctorate in Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in 1993 under the direction of John Bercaw, he joined the Central Research and Development Department of the DuPont Company in Wilmington Delaware.  He is a co-inventor of the DuPont's Versipol® Polyolefin Technology Platform, and has over 40 patents to his name. Since 1999 Dr. Coughlin has been on the Faculty of the Polymer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he is currently a Full Professor. He has won a number of research awards including the NSF CAREER award, 3M non-tenured faculty award, and DuPont Young Faculty Award, among others. In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. His research interests are broad and cover aspects of synthetic polymer chemistry and material characterization studies of polymers for use in fuel cells, lithium ion batteries, light harvesting polymer for organic photovoltaics, functional hybrid materials, and fire-safe polymers.

EVENT DATE: Thursday, May 12

Registration requested by: Wednesday, May 11, 1:00 PM.

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Webinar Timing: 6:00 PM.

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