Casein as sustainable green flame retardant

Researchers have portrayed waterborne hybrid polyurethane coatings containing Casein as sustainable flame retardant through different synthesis approaches.

Milk drips onto a black background.
Casein is a family of related phosphoproteins that are commonly found in mammalian milk.  Image source: Myriams-Fotos - Pixabay (symbol image).

In a recent study, waterborne polyurethane (WPU) dispersions were prepared for flame retardant coatings. Specifically, alkoxysilane-capped polycaprolactone-based WPUs were synthesised employing the acetone process, and Casein, as a green and sustainable flame retardant additive, was added by two different methods (in situ and ex situ). These two strategies made possible to evaluate the effect of the Polyurethane/Casein interaction in the final properties of the dispersions and films.

Casein delayed the combustion

The addition of Casein during the synthesis (in situ) resulted in a covalent bonding between the polyurethane and Casein, which significantly increased the particle size. However, the incorporation after phase inversion of the WPU (ex situ), did not change the particle size. Tensile tests revealed that the covalent bond promoted an increase in the brittleness of the material compared to ex situ approach due to a better dispersion of the Casein in the system. TGA results showed that Casein increased the thermal stability of all the coatings, especially of those obtained by the ex situ route. Moreover, Casein delayed the combustion of the material. Consequently, due to their characteristics, these Casein-WPU dispersions could potentially be used as combustion retardant coatings.

The study has been published in Progress in Organic Coatings, Volume 174, January 2023.

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