Hyperbranched polyphosphoesters are promising multifunctional flame retardants for epoxy resins. These polymers were prepared via thiol-ene polyaddition reactions. While key chemical transformations and modes of actions were elucidated, the role of sulfur in the chemical composition remains an open question. In this study, the FR-performance of a series of phosphorus-based flame retardant additives with and without sulfur (thio-ethers or sulfones) in their structure are compared. The successful synthesis of thio-ether or sulfone-containing variants is described and verified by 1H and 31P NMR, also FTIR and MALDI-TOF. A decomposition process is proposed from pyrolytic evolved gas analysis (TG-FTIR, Py-GC/MS), and flame retardancy effect on epoxy resins is investigated under pyrolytic conditions and via fire testing in the cone calorimeter. The presence of sulfur increased thermal stability of the flame retardants and introduced added condensed phase action. Likely, sulfur radical generation plays a key role in the flame-retardant mode of action, and sulfones released incombustible SO2. The results highlight the multifunctionality of the hyperbranched polymer, which displays better fire performance than its low molar mass thio-ether analogue due to the presence of vinyl groups and higher stability than its monomer due to the presence of thio-ether groups.
- Epoxy resin
- Flame retardant