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    It is commonly accepted that the fire retardant mechanism of boric acid is a physical mechanism achieved by the formation of a coating or protective layer on the wood surface at high temperature. Although a char-forming catalytic mechanism has been proposed by some researchers, little direct experimental support has been provided for such a chemical mechanism. In this paper, new experimental results using thermal analysis, cone calorimetry (CONE), and gas chromatography–Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (GC–FTIR) analysis are presented and the fire retardant mechanism of boric acid on wood is discussed. Basswood was treated with boric acid, guanylurea phosphate (GUP), and GUP–boric acid. Treated wood was then analyzed by thermogravimetry (TG/DTG), differential thermal analysis (DTA), CONE, and GC–FTIR analysis. Thermogravimetry showed that the weight loss of basswood treated with boric acid was about three times that of untreated or GUP-treated wood at 165C, a temperature at which GUP is stable. The DTA curve showed that boric acid treated basswood has an exothermal peak at 420C, indicating the exothermal polymerization reaction of charring. CONE results showed that boric acid and GUP had a considerable synergistic fire retardant effect on wood. The GC–FTIR spectra indicated that compounds generated by boric acid treated wood are different than those generated by untreated wood. We conclude that boric acid catalyzes the dehydration and other oxygen-eliminating reactions of wood at a relatively low temperature (approximately 100–300C) and may catalyze the isomerization of the newly formed polymeric materials by forming aromatic structures. This contributes partly to the effects of boric acid on promoting the charring and fire retardation of wood. The mechanism of the strong fire retardant synergism between boric acid and GUP is due to the different fire retardant mechanisms of boric acid and GUP and the different activation temperatures of these two chemicals.

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    Wang, Qingwen; Li, Jian; Winandy, Jerrold E. 2004. Chemical mechanism of fire retardance of boric acid on wood. Wood science and technology. Vol. 38 (2004): Pages 375-389


    Fire retardant mechanism, boric acid, basswood, guanylurea phosphate

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