Environmentally Benign Polyelectrolyte Complex That Renders Wood Flame Retardant and Mechanically Strengthened Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2019 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim Home structure fires are responsible for a majority of fire deaths and injuries. Wood is a key component of home construction due to its excellent mechanical properties and renewability, but it is inherently flammable. This study demonstrates the ability of a waterborne polyelectrolyte complex (PEC) to significantly increase wood's time to ignition, while decreasing peak heat release rate and total heat release. The PEC treatment, comprised of polyethylenimine and sodium hexametaphosphate, preserves the visual aesthetic of the wood and adds little additional weight (ca. 6%), while concurrently increasing flexural modulus and flexural strength. Scanning electron microscope images after torch testing provide evidence of a microintumescent flame retardant mechanism. This unique water-based coating provides an environmentally benign means to render wood construction much safer.

author list (cited authors)

  • Kolibaba, T. J., & Grunlan, J. C.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • May 2019