How to keep polymers from burning
...change the chemistry, of course.

Many of the commodity polymers are highly flammable since they are hydrocarbon based. For both safety and application reasons, it is desirable to find a means of making those polymers that readily burn more flame-resistant.

Flame Retardant: a component that will slow the combustion or hinder the ignition of an otherwise combustible material

Safety Requirement: modern safety standards require self-extinguishing capability of polymer materials when exposed to common ignition sources of fire

Types: flame retardants are often additives physically mixed with the polymer or chemically incorporated as part of the polymer repeat units

Function: flame retardants can act by releasing an inert gas that dilutes the oxygen and fuel, decrease the temperature of the flame, form an incombustible insulating layer, or form products that interfere with the free radical mechanism

Considerations: flame retardants must be stable, preferably colorless, not change the physical and mechanical properties of the polymer, and minimize the release of toxic or corrosive substances