The goal of this research is to obtain quantitative information on chemical speciation over time during high temperature material thermal decomposition. The long term goal of the research will be to impact structural fire safety by developing a data base of characteristic “burn signatures” for combustible structural materials. In order to establish procedure and to generate data for benchmark materials, the first material tested in these preliminary tests is poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA). Material samples are heated in an infrared (IR) heating chamber until they undergo pyrolysis. Time resolved quantitative measurements of the exhaust species CO2, O2, HC, and CO were obtained. During heating the PMMA sample undergoes two distinct processes. First, pre-combustion pyrolysis is characterized by the appearance a peak in the THC signal between 600–650 °C. Secondly, at about 900 °C flaming combustion occurs as evidenced by an exothermic reaction reported by the thermocouples. The time sequence of the production of HC, O2 depletion and CO2 production are consistent with combustion in an excess-oxidizer environment.

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