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Exploring the Role of Polymer Melt Viscosity in Melt Flow and Flammability Behavior



Thomas J. Ohlemiller, John R. Shields, Kathryn M. Butler, Belinda L. Collins, Momar D. Seck


Thermoplastic polymers are widely used in roles where molding facilitates cost effective, high volume applications. Such polymers exhibit uniquely complex behavior in a fire because of their tendency to liquefy and flow. This behavior was explored in two stages. In the first, the melt behavior was examined in a non-flaming situation that subjected one face of a polymer slab to a radiant heat flux. The transient flow behavior was recorded for comparison to a model that uses the separately-measured melt viscosity as an input. In the second stage of the study, the burning behavior was examined in a facility that allows heat release rate measurements. These experiments explored the sensitivity of the evolved heat release rate to polymer type, polymer melt viscosity and physical aspects of the experimental set-up. The results demonstrate that the burning behavior of a thermoplastic object can vary strongly with the conditions under which it is burned if its melt viscosity permits appreciable flow.
Proceedings Title
Fire Retardant Chemicals Association
Conference Dates
October 15-18, 2000
Conference Location
Ponte Vedra, FL
Conference Title
New Developments and Key Market Trends in Flame Retardancy


flame retardants, polymers, flammability, viscosity, thermoplastics, experiments


Ohlemiller, T. , Shields, J. , Butler, K. , Collins, B. and Seck, M. (2000), Exploring the Role of Polymer Melt Viscosity in Melt Flow and Flammability Behavior, Fire Retardant Chemicals Association, Ponte Vedra, FL, [online], (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created October 15, 2000, Updated February 19, 2017