Over the past few years, the use of certain types of halogenated flame retardant additives such as decabromodiphenylether has come under intense scrutiny due to their toxicity, environmental persistence and bio-accumulation. There is an immediate need for the development of non-toxic alternative flame retardant materials and fire resistant polymers with comparable or better efficacies, obtained using benign synthetic approaches. Enzymatic polymerization is being used increasingly as an environmentally friendly alternative method for the synthesis of functional materials including polymers and additives. Here, we report a biocatalytic synthesis of a new class of thermally stable, ultra-fire resistant polyphenols based on deoxybenzoins. In calorimetric studies, these polyphenols exhibit very low heat release capacities (comparable to Nomex™) and form a large amount of carbonaceous char rendering them suitable for flame retardant applications.
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