Flame retardants are used to prevent or moderate fires. Flame retardants are mainly used in products from plastics, textiles, foams or wood to reduce the chances of a fire starting or to delay the spread of fire once it starts. In practice, flame retardants increase plastic’s ignition resistance, reduce the speed of flame spread, reduce the speed of flame spread; reduce heat release and reduce smoke & fume generation. Most importantly, flame retardants increase escape time in the event of fire.

Flame retardants can also prevent ignition or conversely self-extinguish the fire. In other circumstances, when fire is spreading, flame retardants will slow down the spread of fire, reduce heat release and delay flash-over. Flame retardants can also prevent the collapse of structures or prevent the spread of fire to other parts of a building.

Some applications

Flame retardants can be added to treat potentially flammable materials such as textiles or plastics such as sofas or television sets. The term “flame retardant” refers to a function and not to a family of chemicals.

How do flame retardants work?

Flame retardants are added to different t materials or applied as a treatment to materials such as textiles or plastics for example. This can prevent fires or limit the spread of fire and minimize fire damage. Some flame retardants work on their own, others as synergists to increase the fire protective benefits of other flame retardants. A variety of flame retardants is necessary as materials that need to be made fire-resistant are very different in their physical nature and chemical composition and behave differently. Therefore, as the elements in flame retardants react differently with fire, flame retardants are matched to each type of material.

Common elements

The common elements in flame retardants are bromine, phosphorus, nitrogen and chlorine.

What main products use flame retardants?

It is a long list of household products such as appliances, computers, TV screens either at home or in commercial environments. Flame retardants are commonly used in building and construction material. All transport modes use flame retardants, often at the behest of authorities, from aircraft, railway carriages, ships, buses and automobiles.

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