, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 188-194
Date: 06 Jul 2007

Flammability Properties of Virgin and Recycled Polycarbonate (PC) and Acrylonitrile–Butadiene–Styrene (ABS) Recovered from End-of-Life Electronics

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Abstract

Acrylonitrile–Butadiene–Styrene (ABS), Polycarbonate (PC) and their alloys are widely used in automotive industry, computer and equipment housings. With increasing disposal of end-of-life electronic equipment, there is also an increased demand for recycling of these materials so that they do not pose environmental challenge as solid waste. One of the recycling approaches is mechanical recycling of these thermoplastics where recycled plastic is melt blended with virgin materials to obtain a high quality product. Besides obtaining desirable mechanical properties, such blends should also conform to fire safety standards. In this work, a series of blends were prepared using PC and ABS recovered from discarded computers and virgin materials using a twin-screw extruder. Their flammability properties were evaluated using burner flammability tests and Ohio State University (OSU) release rate tests. It was found that the extinguishing time, burning extent and weight loss appears to progressively decrease with the addition of both virgin or recycled PC to virgin or recycled ABS. It was also seen that the addition of the 70% of PC, virgin or recycled, to ABS virgin or recycled, appears to significantly decrease heat release and smoke evolution. The results of this study indicate that recycled polycarbonate can be used as an additive for virgin or recycled ABS, as a means of giving flame resistance to ABS in high-value applications. This result is significant when related to the result obtained by a separate study indicating that up to 25% of recycled material can be used without degradation of mechanical properties in the presence of 15% short glass fiber reinforcement.