Hybrid Silica-Phytic Acid Coatings: Effect on the Thermal Stability and Flame Retardancy of Cotton.Polymers (Basel). 2019 Oct 12; 11(10)P
New hybrid sol-gel coatings based on tetraethoxysilane (TEOS) and phytic acid (PA) were designed and applied to cotton; the flame-retardant properties of the treated fabrics were thoroughly investigated by means of flame-spread and forced-combustion tests. The first goal was to identify the TEOS:PA weight ratio that allowed the achievement of the best flame-retardant properties, with the lowest final dry add-on on the fabrics. Therefore, different TEOS:PA sols were prepared and applied to cotton, and the resulting coated fabrics were thoroughly investigated. In particular, solid-state NMR spectroscopy was exploited for assessing the condensation degree during the sol-gel process, even for evaluating the occurrence of possible reactions between phytic acid and the cellulosic substrate or the alkoxy precursor. It was found that a total dry add-on of 16 wt. % together with 70:30 TEOS:PA weight ratio provided cotton with self-extinction, as clearly indicated by flame-spread tests. This formulation was further investigated in forced-combustion tests: a significant reduction of heat release rate (HRR), of the peak of HRR, and of total heat release (THR) was found, together with a remarkable increase of the residues after the test. Unfortunately, the treated fabrics were not resistant to washing cycles, as they significantly lost their flame-retardant properties, consequently to the partial removal of the deposited hybrid coatings.