Experimental Evaluation of Flammability Parameters of Polymeric Materials

  • Archibald Tewarson


An evaluation of the fire behavior of polymers and liquids over a wide range of experimental conditions is made using a laboratory scale flammability apparatus developed by the author. Results are presented for the following fuel parameters: (1) minimum heat flux (surface temperature), energy, and critical mass loss rate required for the piloted ignition of fuel vapor-air mixture and kinetic parameter for fuel vapors; (2) “effective” heat of gasification of the fuel; (3) flame-convective and flame-radiative heat flux to the fuel surface; (4) mass generation rates of CO, CO2, gaseous hydrocarbons, and “pyrolyzate”,† expressed as fractional theoretical stoichiometric yields (or fractions of carbon in the fuel converted to the products); (5) chemical formula of the fuels based on measured elemental compositions; (6) heat release rates (actual, convective, and radiative) expressed as combustion efficiency of the fuel vapors and convective and radiative fractions of the theoretical stoichiometric heat release rate for the complete combustion of the fuel vapors; (7) net heat of complete combustion and actual heat of combustion of the fuels; and (8) the ratio of optical density per unit path length to mass concentration of the fuel vapors defined as “modified mass absorbency index.”

The apparatus and concepts used for obtaining the fuel parameters are also described.

The parameters are obtained for fuels about 0.008 m2 in area exposed to various values of external heat flux and mass fraction of environmental oxygen.

The results are reported for the following fuels*:
  1. 1.
    Aliphatic- Type Fuels
    1. a.

      Liquids: methanol, acetone, heptane.

    2. b.

      Granular: cellulose, polyoxymethylene, polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate, nylon.

    3. c.

      Foams: polyethylene.

  2. 2.
    Aromatic- Type Fuels
    1. a.

      Liquids: aniline, benzene, styrene.

    2. b.

      Granular: polystyrene, styrene-butadiene.

    3. c.

      Foams: polystyrene†, polyurethanes†, polyisocyanurates†, phenolic.

  3. 3.

    Chlorinated- Type Fuels. Chlorinated polyethylenes, polyvinyl chloride.

    Results for composite fuels are also reported.


This report is based on work which was started in July 1975 and completed in November 1978 under Products Research Committee Grant No. RP-75-1-33A.


Heat Release Rate Polyurethane Foam Mass Loss Rate Fire Retardant Fire Hazard 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Archibald Tewarson
    • 1
  1. 1.Factory Mutual SystemFactory Mutual Research CorporationNorwoodUSA

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