Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Polymer Engineering

Major Professor

Gajanan S. Bhat

Committee Members

Roberto Benson, Kevin Kit, Jimmy Mays

Abstract

Focus of this research is on developing cotton-based nonwoven mattress pads with flame retardant (FR) properties by blending cotton with other commercially available fibers, binders, and followed by chemical treatments; offering a cost-effective recipe to meet the upcoming flammability standards. Furthermore this research explores the opportunities taking advantage of possible synergistic effects to achieve maximum performance.

Recent changes in the flammability regulations require improvements in the flame resistance of cotton-containing consumer goods such as upholstered furniture, mattresses, and pillows. Cotton, synthetic fibers, fabrics, and foam are the basic constituents of these goods that are often the first to be engulfed by fire. Hence there is a need to impart certain degree of flame resistance based on their end use. In case of real fires, these improvements in flame retardancy would provide more time for people to escape from a fire with fewer injuries, and result in savings of life as well as property.

Cotton being a highly flammable fiber, to achieve higher degree of flame resistance, it is necessary to incorporate additional fibers and chemicals into cotton products. Choice of appropriate materials can help to achieve a synergistic role in the combustion process to slow down burning, reduce flame spread, or even extinguish the fire. Many of these chemicals are expensive and lead to a spike in the product cost. Moreover there are certain FR chemicals that are likely to pose environmental and health hazards. The FR chemicals used in this research are halogen free and have been considered safe. Finally, a cost effective recipe for constructing mattress pads that passes the latest flammability tests was developed. As planned, these nonwoven pads were produced by blending cotton with other commercially available fibers, binders, and followed by chemical treatments that take advantages of various synergistic effects to achieve maximum performance at low cost. The product of this research is a good candidate for mattress pads as well as other products such as upholstered furniture, mattress ticking, and pillows, which are required to comply with the open flame standards.

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