A collaboration between researchers from Albemarle Corporation, Louisiana State University (LSU), and the Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD) has led to innovative new methods that will increase 3-D visualization of flame retardant and synergist components using element specific X-ray tomography. This research shows that it is possible to visualize key polymer additives in 3-D without damage to the polymer or test sample. Brominated flame retardants and synergists are important polymer additives for fire safety. The ever increasing demand for fire safety, lower cost products and greener chemistry in consumer products drives extensive research aimed at creating more efficient and green flame retardants. Dispersion of the additives in the polymer matrices is critical to their efficiency and use. The spectroscopic tools and mathematical methods developed in this collaboration allow researchers to study both the dispersion of brominated materials and synergists to develop more efficient and greener blends.
"Our collaboration with LSU has been very successful and has led to new insights benefiting polymer additives, especially brominated flame retardants and synergists," says Joop de Rooij, Albemarle's R&D director. "New tools developed in this collaboration allow us to more accurately study dispersion and address performance issues in real commercial flame retardant application. This effort enables Albemarle to maintain our technology leadership in this highly competitive field by adapting and developing new and advanced products faster than the competition." According to Professor Les Butler of LSU and CAMD, "Working with Albemarle has clearly been a good situation. We have learned a lot about practical polymer and imaging technology and with this knowledge we have been able to develop the novel and powerful visualization tools."
The work is funded through a Grant Opportunity for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) from the National Science Foundation. Principal investigators with Professor Butler are Professor Randall Hall of LSU, and Dr. Larry Simeral, Distinguished Advisor at Albemarle.