Table of Contents
Journal of Polymers
Volume 2015, Article ID 821297, 5 pages
Research Article

Preparation and Antiflame Performance of Expandable Graphite Modified with Sodium Hexametaphosphate

1College of Chemistry and Environmental Science, Key Laboratory of Analytical Science and Technology of Hebei Province, Hebei University, Baoding 071002, China
2Department of VIP, Affiliated Hospital of Hebei University, Baoding, Hebei 071000, China

Received 12 May 2015; Accepted 9 July 2015

Academic Editor: Iliya Rashkov

Copyright © 2015 Hongmei Zhao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A kind of polyphosphate modified expandable graphite (EGp) was prepared in graphite oxidation and intercalation reaction with KMnO4 as oxidant, H2SO4 as intercalator, and sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP) as assistant intercalator. The feasible mass ratio of C : KMnO4 : H2SO4 (98%) : SHMP was determined as 1.0 : 0.3 : 4.5 : 0.6, H2SO4 was diluted to 77 wt% before intercalation reaction, and the reaction lasted for 40 min at 40°C. Expanded volume and initial expansion temperature of the prepared EGp reached 600 mL/g (at 800°C) and 151°C, respectively. X-ray diffraction spectroscopy testified the intercalation and layer structure of EGp, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy illuminated the intercalated functional groups. Flame retardance of the prepared EGp and the referenced EG (with only H2SO4 as intercalator) for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) was also investigated. Addition of 30 wt% EGp to the polymer improved the limiting oxygen index (LOI) from 17.5 to 27.3%. On the other hand, the LOI of the same amount of the referenced EG was only 24.6%. Assistant intercalation of SHMP improved the dilatability and flame retardancy.

1. Introduction

Graphite is a kind of crystal compound with layer structure, and its intercalating compound named expandable graphite can be prepared when noncarbonaceous reactants are inserted into graphite layers through chemical or electrochemical reaction [1, 2]. Expandable graphite has many good properties: it can be used as catalyst in the synthesis of organic ester [3], and when it expands at high temperature, a poriferous material called expanded graphite is prepared. Expanded graphite is a kind of effective adsorbent for heavy oil and dyes wastewater [46]. At the same time, expandable graphite is a good intumescent type flame-retardant for its good capability of halogen-free and nondropping [7, 8]. When expandable graphite exposes to flame, it can give a swollen multicellular char, which can protect materials from heat and oxygen. Simultaneously, expandable graphite absorbs huge heat during the instant expansion, which can decrease the burning temperature. When it is oxidized on reaction with H2SO4 at high temperature, the released CO2, SO2, and H2O can reduce concentration of combustible gas [9]. All these characteristics indicate expandable graphite is a good flame retardant.

When expandable graphite is used as flame retardant, its dilatability (shown as expanded volume (EV)) and thermal stability (shown as initial expansion temperature ) are very important parameters [10], and it can be divided into three kinds: low (between 80 and 150°C), middle (between 180 and 240°C), and high (between 250 and 300°C) expandable graphite.

In the preparation of expandable graphite, reactants and theirs contents, such as oxidant, intercalator and assistant intercalator, and reaction temperature, reaction time can all affect its dilatability. With KMnO4 as oxidant and H2SO4 and acetic acid as intercalator and assistant intercalator, expandable graphite with a of 160°C and EV of 460 mL g−1 was prepared [11]. Expandable graphite holding a of 310°C and EV of 270 mL g−1 could be prepared with 85 wt% H2SO4 as intercalator, KMnO4 as oxidant, and FeSO4 as close agent [12].

Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) possesses low machining temperature (less than 140°C) and it is very flammable. In this research, with KMnO4 as oxidant and H2SO4 as intercalator, and sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP) as assistant intercalator, the phosphate modified expandable graphite () with high dilatability and fitting for LLDPE flame retardancy was prepared. The dosages of KMnO4, H2SO4, and SHMP and reaction temperature and reaction time were optimized in graphite intercalating reaction. X-ray diffraction spectroscopy (XRD) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) were employed to illuminate the layer structure and intercalating components. Flame retardancy, indicated as limiting oxygen index (LOI) of the for LLDPE, was also investigated.

2. Experimental

2.1. Materials and Reagents

Natural flake graphite with an average flake size of 0.3 mm and a carbon content of 92% was provided by Action Carbon Co. Ltd., Baoding, China. Analytical reagent of SHMP was obtained from Fuchen, Tianjin, China. H2SO4 (98%) and KMnO4 are all analytical agents. LLDPE (7042, 0.918 g/cm3, melt index 2.0 g/10 min).

2.2. Experimental Method
2.2.1. EGp Preparing Procedure and Its Optimization

In the intercalating reaction of material graphite, the reactants were quantified according to a definite mass ratio of C : H2SO4 (98%) : KMnO4 : SHMP, and H2SO4 was diluted with deionized water before reaction. Then, the quantified reactants were mixed and stirred in the order of the diluted H2SO4, SHMP, C, and KMnO4 in a 250 mL beaker, controlled at a constant temperature. After reaction, the solid phase was washed with deionized water and dipped in water for 2.0 h until pH of the wastewater reached 6.0–7.0, and then is obtained after filtration and drying at 50–60°C for about 5.0 h. Its dilatability showing as EV and was detected according to the reported method [11].

The influences of mass ratio of graphite to KMnO4, SHMP, and H2SO4 and its concentration, reaction time, and temperature on dilatability were tested as follows.

2.2.2. Influence of KMnO4 Dosage on EGp Dilatability

In order to investigate the influence of KMnO4 dosage on dilatability, single-factor experiments were carried out by changing KMnO4 dosage in the range of 0.2~0.6 g/g. According to the method mentioned above, experiments were carried out under the constant mass ratio C : SHMP : H2SO4 (98%) of 1.0 : 0.6 : 4.5. Before reaction, H2SO4 was diluted to 80 wt%, and the reaction lasted for 1.0 h at 40°C.

Figure 1 shows the changes of EV with the amount of KMnO4. As an oxidant, insufficient KMnO4 will cause incomplete oxygenation of graphite and decrease of EV, while superfluous KMnO4 will cause excessive oxygenation of graphite, which leads to a decrease in EG granularity and EV. When the mass ratio of KMnO4 to C is controlled as 0.3 g/g, the prepared EG possesses a higher EV of 600 mL/g, and then the feasible dosage of KMnO4 can be set as 0.3 g/g.

Figure 1: Influence of KMnO4 dosage on EV.
2.2.3. Influence of H2SO4 Dosage on EG Dilatability

In order to investigate its influence and feasible dosage, H2SO4 dosage was changed in the range of 3.5~6.0 g/g. Experiments were carried out under the constant mass ratio C : SHMP : KMnO4 of 1.0 : 0.6 : 0.3, the reaction lasted for 1 h at 40°C, and H2SO4 was diluted to 80 wt%.

Figure 2 shows the changes of EV with H2SO4 amount. In intercalation reaction of graphite, H2SO4 acts as intercalator and oxidant and provides an acidic environment for the oxidability of KMnO4. Equation (1) shows that insufficient H2SO4 will incur a poor oxidation of KMnO4 and H2SO4, cause an incomplete intercalation reaction, and lead to the decrease of dilatability. With the increase of H2SO4 dosage, the oxidation of KMnO4 and H2SO4 is enhanced, causing the intercalation reaction gradually completed and leading to the increases of dilatability. When the H2SO4 dosage achieves a balance in three areas, the prepared EG will present high EV. Conversely, EV will decrease when the H2SO4 dosage is under or over the suitable value. Results shown in Figure 2 present that the feasible mass ratio of H2SO4 to C is 4.5 g/g:

Figure 2: Influence of H2SO4 dosage on EV.
2.2.4. Influence of H2SO4 Concentration on EG Dilatability

Under the constant mass ratio C : SHMP : KMnO4 : H2SO4 (98%) of 1.0 : 0.6 : 0.3 : 4.5 (g/g), the reaction lasted for 1 h at 40°C, and influence of H2SO4 wt% in the reaction was detected and shown in Figure 3. Before reaction, 98 wt% H2SO4 was diluted with deionized water to different wt% in the range of 65%~85%.

Figure 3: Influence of H2SO4 wt% on EV.

Electrode potential of /Mn2+ can be calculated according to (1). It shows that there is a positive correlation between [H+] and the oxidation of KMnO4. Therefore, within a certain range, the oxidation of KMnO4 is enhanced with the increase of H2SO4 concentration, causing the intercalation reaction gradually completed and leading to the increases of dilatability. But, with the further increase of H2SO4 concentration, it will cause the excessive oxidation of graphite when it is over a suitable concentration. As shown in experiment results, the feasible H2SO4 concentration is 77 wt%.

2.2.5. Influence of SHMP Dosage on EG Dilatability

Under the constant mass ratio C : H2SO4 (98%) : KMnO4 of 1.0 : 4.5 : 0.3 (g/g), the reaction lasted for 1 h at 40°C and H2SO4 was diluted to 77 wt%, and the influence of SHMP dosage was detected in the range of 0.4~0.8 g/g.

As an assistant intercalator, increase of SHMP dosage can improve EG dilatability as shown in Figure 4. When the mass ratio of SHMP : C is controlled as 0.6 g/g, EG holds a maximum of EV. Superfluous SHMP will cause the relative scarcity of KMnO4 and incomplete oxygenation of graphite.

Figure 4: Influence of SHMP dosage on EV.
2.2.6. Influence of Reaction Temperature on EG Dilatability

Influence of reaction temperature on the reaction is mainly reflected in two aspects: reaction rate and balance direction. For the reaction rate, it is positively correlated with reaction temperature. Instead, for exothermic reaction, such as oxidization and intercalation of graphite, the degree of reverse reaction will increase greatly with the increase temperature. So reaction temperature creates different effects on the reaction rate and direction.

Under the constant mass ratio C : H2SO4 (98%) : KMnO4 : SHMP of 1.0 : 4.5 : 0.3 : 0.6 (g/g), H2SO4 diluted to 77 wt% before reaction, and reaction that lasted for 1 h, the influence of reaction temperature on EV was detected. When it is less than 40°C, the increase of temperature can improve EG dilatability. However, too high temperature causes the exothermic reaction releasing more heat and excessive oxygenation of graphite. So the feasible reaction temperature can be set as 40°C.

2.2.7. Influence of Reaction Time on EG Dilatability

Under the constant mass ratio C : H2SO4 (98%) : KMnO4 : SHMP of 1.0 : 4.5 : 0.3 : 0.6 (g/g), H2SO4 diluted to 77 wt%, and reaction temperature controlled at 40°C, the influence of reaction time on EV was studied. Results show that extension of reaction time increases EG dilatability in the former 40 min, and then it remains the same. Therefore, reaction time can be set as 40 min.

2.3. Characterization of the Samples
2.3.1. XRD Analysis

XRD analysis for material graphite and the prepared expandable graphite were performed with a Y-4Q X-ray diffractometer (Dandong, China) employing Ni-filtered Cu Kα radiation with ranging from 15° to 70°.

2.3.2. FTIR Analysis

The prepared intercalating products were triturated and mixed with potassium bromide at the mass ratio of about 1 : 100. The powder was pressed into flake in mold, and FTIR spectra were recorded between 4000 and 400 cm−1 using FTS-40 FTIR spectrograph (America) with a resolution of 2 cm−1.

2.3.3. Sample Processing and LOI Detection

Mixtures of flame retardant and LLDPE were melted at 140°C in Muller (Jiangsu, China) and pressed at 10 MPa, and then samples were chopped into slivers with size of 120.0 × 6.0 × 3.0 mm3. The slivers were used to measure LOI according to GB/T2406-1993 with oxygen index instrument (Chengde, China).

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Feasible Condition of EGp Preparation

According to the experiment results, feasible conditions of preparation can be set as mass ratio C : KMnO4 : H2SO4 (98%) : SHMP of 1.0 : 0.3 : 4.5 : 0.6; H2SO4 diluted to 77 wt% before reaction; intercalation reaction that lasted for 40 min at 40°C. The EV of under different expansion temperature was detected, and it shows an increasing trend along with the increasing expansion temperature before 800°C, and then it presents a decreasing trend caused by excessive oxygenation of . and the maximum of EV are 151°C and 600 mL/g, respectively.

3.2. Preparation of the Referenced Expandable Graphite (EG)

Compared with , the referenced EG was prepared under the mass ratio C : KMnO4 : H2SO4 (98%) of 1.0 : 0.3 : 4.5, and other conditions were the same as . and the maximum of EV were detected as 205°C and 480 mL/g, respectively. SHMP obviously affects dilatability of and, what is more, addition of 0.6 g/g SHMP in graphite intercalating reaction makes EV increase 25%. will show better flame retardancy than EG for its good dilatability.

3.3. Characterization of Graphite and Its Intercalating Compounds
3.3.1. XRD Analysis of Natural Graphite and EGp

XRD analyses for natural graphite and were performed. As shown in Figure 5 of natural graphite the two peaks with the interplanar crystal spacing of 3.34 Å and 1.67 Å corresponding to diffraction angles of 26.6° and 54.8° are the characteristic spectrum of natural graphite. As shown in Figure 5 of the peaks of 26.2° and 55.4° show that keeps the same layer structure as natural graphite. But it is worthy to note that the diffraction peak of 26.6° transfers to smaller angle of about 26.2°. At the same time, it corresponds to a big interplanar crystal spacing of 3.44 Å due to intercalation in graphene planes. It can be clearly seen that under the oxidation of KMnO4, the noncarbonaceous reactant can be easily inserted into the graphene planes, leading to the increase of interplanar crystal spacing.

Figure 5: XRD of natural graphite and .
3.3.2. FTIR Analysis of the Prepared Samples

Figure 6 shows FTIR spectra of the prepared and EG. As can be seen from the results, two samples both show the characteristic absorption peaks of -OH at 3430, caused by intercalation of H2SO4 or . At the same time, the peak at 1630 cm−1 is the specific absorption peaks of C=C, originating from its conjugated structure. The absorption peaks of S=O in EG are at 1160 cm−1, but there are wide superimposed peaks in the range of 1160–1110 cm−1 in the FTIR of , and it is because the absorption peaks of S=O and P=O both appear in the range of 1350–1100 cm−1 as reported [13]. Furthermore, the peaks at 1161 cm−1 and 901 cm−1 in all belong to SHMP specific absorption [14]. The results announce the intercalation of intercalator.

Figure 6: FTIR analysis of EG and .
3.4. Detection of Flame Retardancy for LLDPE

Processing temperature of LLDPE is lower than 140°C, so the prepared and EG can be used as retardant. The flame retarding composites were prepared as mentioned above, and their LOI of pure LLDPE, 70LLDPE/30, and 70LLDPE/30EG (shown as wt%) was detected according to the mentioned method. Results show that LOI of net LLDPE is only 17.5%, and its combustion accompanies molten drop at the same time. Addition of 30% EG improves LOI to 24.6%, and no molten drop occurs. However, the addition of the same amount of can improve LOI to 27.3%, and no molten drop occurs too. Therefore, the intercalating STPP is more effectual in improving the flame retardancy.

4. Conclusions

According to the analysis of the experiment results, it is evident that the mass ratio of C : KMnO4 : H2SO4 (98%) : SHMP has important influence on product dilatability, and when it is controlled as 1.0 : 0.3 : 4.5 : 0.6, H2SO4 was diluted to 77 wt% before intercalation reaction, and intercalating reaction lasted for 40 min at 40°C, the EV and of the prepared can reach 600 mL/g and 151°C, respectively. The intercalating reaction between graphite and H2SO4 and SHMP can be revealed by XRD and FTIR analysis of intercalation compounds. has more effective flame retardancy than the referenced EG.

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests regarding the publication of this paper.


This study is supported by Project (no. B2015201028) of Natural Science Foundation of Hebei Province. At the same time, the authors gratefully acknowledge the support of Seedling Project of College of Chemistry and Environmental Science, Hebei University.


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