Effect of Hemp Hurd Biochar and Humic Acid on the Flame Retardant and Mechanical Properties of Ethylene Vinyl Acetate

Polymers (Basel). 2023 Mar 12;15(6):1411. doi: 10.3390/polym15061411.


In this work, the combination of biochar produced through a pyrolytic process of hemp hurd with commercial humic acid as a potential biomass-based flame-retardant system for ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer is thoroughly investigated. To this aim, ethylene vinyl acetate composites containing hemp-derived biochar at two different concentrations (i.e., 20 and 40 wt.%) and 10 wt.% of humic acid were prepared. The presence of increasing biochar loadings in ethylene vinyl acetate accounted for an increasing thermal and thermo-oxidative stability of the copolymer; conversely, the acidic character of humic acid anticipated the degradation of the copolymer matrix, even in the presence of the biochar. Further, as assessed by forced-combustion tests, the incorporation of humic acid only in ethylene vinyl acetate slightly decreased both peaks of heat release rate (pkHRR) and total heat release (THR, by 16% and 5%, respectively), with no effect on the burning time. At variance, for the composites containing biochar, a strong decrease in pkHRR and THR values was observed, approaching -69 and -29%, respectively, in the presence of the highest filler loading, notwithstanding, for this latter, a significant increase in the burning time (by about 50 s). Finally, the presence of humic acid significantly lowered the Young's modulus, unlike biochar, for which the stiffness remarkably increased from 57 MPa (unfilled ethylene vinyl acetate) to 155 Mpa (for the composite containing 40 wt.% of the filler).

Keywords: EVA; flame retardance; hemp hurd biochar; humic acid; mechanical behavior.