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Novel Polymer Aerogel toward High Dimensional Stability, Mechanical Property, and Fire Safety

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journal contribution
posted on 16.06.2017, 00:00 by Ke Shang, Jun-Chi Yang, Zhi-Jie Cao, Wang Liao, Yu-Zhong Wang, David A. Schiraldi
Inorganc silica-based aerogels, the earliest and widely used aerogels, have poorer mechanical properties than their organic substitutes, which are flammable. In this study, a novel polymeric aerogel with high strength, inherent flame retardancy, and cost-effectiveness, which is based on poly­(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) cross-linked with melamine–formaldehyde (MF), was prepared under aqueous condition with an ecofriendly freeze-drying and postcuring process. Combined with the additional rigid MF network and benifited from the resulting unique infrastructure of inter-cross-linked flexible PVA segments and rigid MF segments, PVA-based aerogels exibited a significantly decreased degradation rate and sharply decreased peak heat release rate (PHRR) in cone calorimeter tests (by as much as 83%) compared with neat PVA. The polymer aerogels have a limiting oxygen index (LOI) as high as 36.5% and V-0 rating in UL-94 test. Furthermore, the aerogel samples exposured to harsh temperatures maintain their dimensions (<10% change), original mechanical strength and fire safety. Therefore, this work provides a novel stragegy for preparing pure organic polymeric aerogel materials with high mechanical strength, dimensional stability, and fire safety.