Environmentally-Benign Phytic Acid-Based Multilayer Coating for Flame Retardant Cotton Academic Article uri icon


  • Chemically bleached cotton fabric was treated with phytic acid (PA), chitosan (CH) and urea by means of layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition to impart flame retardant (FR) behavior using only benign and renewable molecules. Samples were treated with 8, 10, 12 and 15 bilayers (BL) of anionic PA and cationic CH, with urea mixed into the aqueous CH solution. Flammability was evaluated by measuring limiting oxygen index (LOI) and through vertical flame testing. LOI values are comparable to those obtained with commercial flame-retardant finishes, and applying 10 or more bilayers renders cotton self-extinguishing and able to pass the vertical flame test. Microscale combustion calorimeter (MCC) measurements show the average reduction of peak heat release rate (pHRR) of all treated fabrics of ~61% and the reduction of total heat release (THR) of ~74%, in comparison to untreated cotton. Decomposition temperatures peaks (T1max) measured by thermogravimetric analyzer (TG) decreased by approximately 62 °C, while an average residue at 650 °C is ~21% for 10 and more bilayers. Images of post-burn char indicate that PA/CH-urea treatment is intumescent. The ability to deposit such a safe and effective FR treatment, with relatively few layers, makes LbL an alternative to current commercial treatments.

author list (cited authors)

  • Magovac, E., Jordanov, I., Grunlan, J. C., & Bischof, S.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • December 2020