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Plastics Committee Developing Microscale Combustion Calorimetry Standard
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 November 2006
Tech News

Plastics Committee Developing Microscale Combustion Calorimetry Standard

ASTM International Committee D20 on Plastics is currently developing a proposed new standard that will be used for the determination of flammability characteristics of polymeric materials under laboratory conditions. The proposed standard, WK9492, Test Method for Determining Flammability Characteristics of Plastics and Other Solid Materials Using Microscale Combustion Calorimetry, will be useful as a screening test for the flammability of materials, as well as for research purposes. WK9492 is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee D20.30 on Thermal Properties.

According to Fred Schall, project manager, Govmark Organization, a method for determining flammability characteristics of polymeric materials under laboratory conditions would be useful as a screening test for materials flammability and for research purposes. WK9492 used controlled heating to thermally decompose the specimen, thermal oxidation of the evolved gases in excess oxygen and oxygen consumption calorimetry to measure the heat release characteristics of materials under conditions that simulate flaming combustion in a laboratory test.

Measured heat release characteristics are the maximum amount, rate and temperature of heat release by combustion of specimen gases evolved during controlled heating. Tests can be conducted in which the specimen is thermally decomposed in an anaerobic or aerobic environment.

Schall says that the proposed standard is being developed to facilitate the development of flame retardant/fire resistant plastics, using a rapid and inexpensive test method with standard technology and operating procedures, best practices and data analyses that are reproducible and meaningful.

“Using the proposed test method, a large number of tests will be able to be run in a single day using very small samples,” says Schall. “The data will be very accurate and reproducible if the standard is followed.” Schall notes that the proposed standard will be able to be used for the discovery of new flame retardant additives for commodity plastics and inherently flame resistant polymers, as well as for research into the fundamental mechanisms of flame resistance and quality control of plastic formulations that must pass certification tests for flammability, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Scientists in industry and academia who are already involved in flammability research will be early users of the standard that results from WK9492, but Schall says that use of the proposed standard could expand to include commercial laboratory testing, quality control functions and industrial research and development.

Subcommittee D20.30 invites all interested parties to participate in the continuing development of WK9492. According to Schall, the subcommittee is particularly interested in working with individuals who are currently using microscale combustion calorimetry and would be willing to participate in an interlaboratory study to determine precision and bias for the proposed standard. //

Technical Information: Fred Schall, Govmark Organization, Inc., Farmingdale, N.Y.
Phone: 847/223-2511

ASTM Staff: Katharine Morgan
Phone: 610/832-9721

Upcoming Meeting:
Nov. 12-15
November Committee Week
Atlanta, Ga.

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