The Effect of Multilevel Carbon Reinforcements on the Fire Performance, Conductivity, and Mechanical Properties of Epoxy Composites.Polymers (Basel). 2019 Feb 12; 11(2)P
We studied the effect of a multilevel presence of carbon-based reinforcements-a combination of conventional load-bearing unidirectional carbon fiber (CF) with multiwalled carbon nanotubes (CNT) and conductive CNT-containing nonwoven carbon nanofabric (CNF(CNT))-on the fire performance, thermal conductivity, and mechanical properties of reference and flame-retarded epoxy resin (EP) composites. The inclusion of carbon fibers and flame retardant reduced the peak heat release rate (pHRR) of the epoxy resins. The extent to which the nanoreinforcements reduced the pHRR depended on their influence on thermal conductivity. Specifically, high thermal conductivity is advantageous at the early stages of degradation, but after ignition it may lead to more intensive degradation and a higher pHRR; especially in the reference samples without flame retardant. The lowest pHRR (130 kW/m²) and self-extinguishing V-0 UL-94 rating was achieved in the flame-retarded composite containing all three levels of carbon reinforcement (EP + CNF(CNT) + CNT + CF FR). The plasticizing effect of the liquid flame retardant impaired both the tensile and flexural properties; however, it significantly enhanced the impact resistance of the epoxy resin and its composites.