Most current flame-retardant nanocoatings for flexible polyurethane foam (PUF) consist of passive barriers, such as clay, graphene oxide, or metal hydroxide. In an effort to develop a polymeric and environmentally benign nanocoating for PUF, positively charged chitosan (CH) and anionic sodium hexametaphosphate (PSP) were deposited using layer-by-layer (LbL) assembly. Only six bilayers of CH/PSP film can withstand flame penetration during exposure to a butane torch (∼1400 °C) for 10 s and stop flame spread on the foam. Additionally, cone calorimetry reveals that the fire growth rate, peak heat release rate, and maximum average rate of heat emission are reduced by 55, 43, and 38%, respectively, compared with uncoated foam. This multilayer thin film quickly dehydrates to form an intumescent charred exoskeleton on the surface of the open-celled structure of polyurethane, inhibiting heat transfer and completely eliminating melt dripping. This entirely polymeric nanocoating provides a safe and effective alternative for reducing the fire hazard of polyurethane foam that is widely used for cushioning and insulation.
Keywords: chitosan; flame retardant; flexible polyurethane foam; layer-by-layer assembly; sodium hexametaphosphate.