Fullerene (C60, aka. buckybull) is a carbon allotrope, which has a spheroidal-shaped structure. Combination of magnificent thermal stability and unique physical and electrical properties of fullerene with popular advantages of polymers has attracted a lot of research interests.101-103 However, only a few studies have focused on fullerene flame retardancy effect of polymers. Fullerene has a high reactivity against free radicals. It can act as a free radical scavenger to trap radicals produced during combustion in the gas and/or condensed phase and delay thermo-oxidative degradation of polymers.104-108
Fullerene nanoparticles have a tendency to agglomerate due to their strong Van der Waals forces and significant specific surface area. This, in turn, can result in poor fire performance of the polymer composite. To this extent, it is important to assure uniform dispersion of fullerene nanoparticles in polymer matrix. Song et al reported successful incorporation of pristine fullerene nanoparticles in PP matrix via melt compounding technique.106 Cone calorimeter recorded a 46% reduction in pHRR for fullerene containing samples at the maximum fullerene loading (2 wt%) compared with that of neat PP. Meanwhile, TGA analysis have demonstrated that in 2 wt% loading of fullerene, Tonset and Tmax were 20°C and 62°C higher than those for PP, respectively. This could be assigned to the role of fullerene as a free radical sponge in slowing down the thermal oxidation of PP. Flame retardancy mechanism of fullerene is also believed to involve trapping PP free radicals during the burning process in order to form a crosslinked network structure. This structure is called “gelled-ball”, owing to its high gel content and complex viscosity.
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