Thesis Details

Thesis Title: The Use of X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy for On-Line Prediction of the Flame Retardant Characteristics of Fabrics
Thesis Author: Hill Teachey
Abstract: Flame retardant finishing has become a huge part of the fabric finisher's duties in the past twenty years. There are now federally mandated, flammability test procedures for nearly every fabric end use imaginable. The problem is that the time required to do the burn testing represents dead time in the manufacturing process. If a way could be found to predict whether a fabric would pass a flammability test, then shipping could be done at the back of the tenter and burn testing could be reduced to a formality. X-ray Fluorescence analysis (XRF) appears to be a tool which can provide the4 ability to make that on line prediction. An evaluation of the ability of x-ray fluorescence to detect phosphorus on fabric included a comparison of XRF to a sulfuric acid digestion followed by a colorimetric determination. The accuracy and precision of XRF were as good as or better than the wet chemistry methods to which it was compared. The amount of the variation in XRF intensities that could be associated with changes in phosphorus levels was more than ninety percent for both a 100 percent cotton and a 100 percent polyester fabric. On line simulations were run at ITT using the XRF machine with a hand held remote measurement head. After performing a bias adjustment to correct the calibration, the XRF method was able to detect the level of phosphorus on the fabric at speeds up to fifty yards per minute. On the basis of these on line readings, correct predictions of flammability test results were made eight out of eight times. The ability to make this measurement on line will allow for greater quality control at finishing, reduce work in process inventory, and shorten the response time to the customer.