Hydrothermal Aging of Fire-Protective Fabrics

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  • Fire-protective fabrics made from high-performance fibers are available to provide protection from various hazardous conditions such as extreme heat and flame. However, these fabrics are often exposed to other deteriorating conditions, including moisture. It is a concern for the user's safety as some high-performance fibers are sensitive to hydrolysis. This study exposed eight fire-protective fabrics corresponding to typical blends used in firefighter protective suit outer shells to accelerated hydrothermal aging. They were immersed in water at different temperatures between 60°C and 95°C for up to 1200 hours. After exposure to hydrothermal aging, some fabrics exhibited a significant loss in tensile strength without any morphological changes. Based on results from energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy and pH measurements of the aging water, the larger loss in strength experienced by the para-aramid/PBI fiber-based fabrics can be related to the high amount of sulfur measured in the PBI fibers, contributing to an acceleration of the para-aramid fiber's hydrolysis in acidic conditions. Hydrothermal aging also appears to affect the water-repellent finish of some fabrics. The study provides an insight into the effect of a generally ignored hazard, i.e., moisture, on the long-term performance of fire-protective fabrics.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
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    • Hoque, Md. S., Saha, A., Chung, H. J., & Dolez, P. I. (2022). Hydrothermal aging of fire‐protective fabrics. Journal of Applied Polymer Science, 139(30), e52666.
    • https://doi.org/10.1002/app.52666
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