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Bioinspired, Highly Adhesive, Nanostructured Polymeric Coatings for Superhydrophobic Fire-Extinguishing Thermal Insulation Foam

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journal contribution
posted on 25.06.2021, 19:43 by Zhewen Ma, Xiaochen Liu, Xiaodong Xu, Lei Liu, Bin Yu, Cristian Maluk, Guobo Huang, Hao Wang, Pingan Song
Lightweight polymeric foam is highly attractive as thermal insulation materials for energy-saving buildings but is plagued by its inherent flammability. Fire-retardant coatings are suggested as an effective means to solve this problem. However, most of the existing fire-retardant coatings suffer from poor interfacial adhesion to polymeric foam during use. In nature, snails and tree frogs exhibit strong adhesion to a variety of surfaces by interfacial hydrogen-bonding and mechanical interlocking, respectively. Inspired by their adhesion mechanisms, we herein rationally design fire-retardant polymeric coatings with phase-separated micro/nanostructures via a facile radical copolymerization of hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA) and sodium vinylsulfonate (VS). The resultant waterborne poly­(VS-co-HEA) copolymers exhibit strong interfacial adhesion to rigid polyurethane (PU) foam and other substrates, better than most of the current adhesives because of the combination of interfacial hydrogen-bonding and mechanical interlocking. Besides a superhydrophobic feature, the poly­(VS-co-HEA)-coated PU foam can self-extinguish a flame, exhibiting a desired V-0 rating during vertical burning and low heat and smoke release due to its high charring capability, which is superior to its previous counterparts. Moreover, the foam thermal insulation is well-preserved and agrees well with theoretical calculations. This work offers a facile biomimetic strategy for creating advanced adhesive fire-retardant polymeric coatings for many flammable substrates.