Making plastics less flammable

Our research group on High Performance Polymers and Fire Retardants, headed by De-Yi Wang, has found that a polystyrene that incorporates ultrafine particles of iron in a mesoporous silica matrix is much less likely to burst into flames or emit smoke when heated. This technique, which also slightly increases the glass transition temperature of polystyrene, might be used to improve the thermal-oxidative stability and fire retardancy of polymers in general. This is important because accidentally-ignited foamed polystyrene materials have led to serious incidents in the past, including fires at Dusseldorf International Airport and in the Channel Tunnel. Read more in this article by Physics World.