In this work, three biochars, deriving from soft wood, oil seed rape, and rice husk and differing as far as the ash content is considered (2.3, 23.4, and 47.8 wt.%, respectively), were compounded in an ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer (vinyl acetate content: 19 wt.%), using a co-rotating twin-screw extruder; three loadings for each biochar were selected, namely 15, 20, and 40 wt.%. The thermal and mechanical properties were thoroughly investigated, as well as the flame retardance of the resulting compounds. In particular, biochar, irrespective of the type, slowed down the crystallization of the copolymer: this effect increased with increasing the filler loading. Besides, despite a very limited effect in flammability tests, the incorporation of biochar at increasing loadings turned out to enhance the forced-combustion behavior of the compounds, as revealed by the remarkable decrease of peak of heat release rate and of total heat release, notwithstanding a significant increase of the residues at the end of the tests. Finally, increasing the biochar loadings promoted an increase of the stiffness of the resulting compounds, as well as a decrease of their ductility with respect to unfilled ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), without impacting too much on the overall mechanical behavior of the copolymer. The obtained results seem to indicate that biochar may represent a possible low environmental impact alternative to the already used flame retardants for EVA, providing a good compromise between enhanced fire resistance and acceptable mechanical properties.
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