The thermal stabilities, flame retardancies, and physico-mechanical properties of rice husk-reinforced polyurethane (PU–RH) foams with and without flame retardants (FRs) were evaluated. Their flammability performances were studied by UL94, LOI, and cone calorimetry tests. The obtained results combined with FTIR, TGA, SEM, and XPS characterizations were used to evaluate the fire behaviors of the PU–RH samples. The PU–RH samples with a quite low loading (7 wt%) of aluminum diethylphosphinate (OP) and 32 wt% loading of aluminum hydroxide (ATH) had high thermal stabilities, excellent flame retardancies, UL94 V-0 ratings, and LOIs of 22%–23%. PU–RH did not pass the UL94 HB standard test and completely burned to the holder clamp with a low LOI (19%). The cone calorimetry results indicated that the fireproof characteristics of the PU foam composites were considerably improved by the addition of the FRs. The proposed flame retardancy mechanism and cone calorimetry results are consistent. The comprehensive FTIR spectroscopy, TG, SEM, and XPS analyses revealed that the addition of ATH generated white solid particles, which dispersed and covered the residue surface. The pyrolysis products of OP would self-condense or react with other volatiles generated by the decomposition of PU–RH to form stable, continuous, and thick phosphorus/aluminum-rich residual chars inhibiting the transfer of heat and oxygen. The PU–RH samples with and without the FRs exhibited the normal isothermal sorption hysteresis effect at relative humidities higher than 20%. At lower values, during the desorption, this effect was not observed, probably because of the biodegradation of organic components in the RH. The findings of this study not only contribute to the improvement in combustibility of PU–RH composites and reduce the smoke or toxic fume generation, but also solve the problem of RHs, which are abundant waste resources of agriculture materials leading to the waste disposal management problems.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited