Canadian Plastics

Flame-proof plastic protects air passengers

Tests have shown that flames, not impact, can often be the greatest threat to a passenger's chances of survival in an air crash. As a result, four years ago the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration la...

July 1, 1999   Canadian Plastics



Tests have shown that flames, not impact, can often be the greatest threat to a passenger’s chances of survival in an air crash. As a result, four years ago the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration launched a program to find less combustible plastics. The effort seems to be paying off as a research team at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has turned up a promising material, polyhydroxyamide, which appears to have the right properties. When it is heated to about 400 F, polyhydroxyamide gives off water vapor and changes into polybenzoxazole, a polymer that is extremely fire-resistant. Numerous companies, including DuPont, Amoco and GE Plastics have helped support the research and, according to reports, commercial development of the material could begin soon.

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