An apparatus for treating polymeric materials comprises a treatment chamber adapted to maintain a selected atmosphere at a selected temperature; a means for supporting the polymeric material within the chamber; and, a source of ozone-containing gas, which decomposes at the selected temperature yielding at least one reactive oxidative species whereby the polymer is stabilized and cross linked through exposure to the oxidative species in the chamber at the selected temperature. The ozone may be generated by a plasma discharge or by various chemical processes. The apparatus may be configured for either batch-type or continuous-type processing. The apparatus and method are especially useful for preparing polymer fibers, particularly PAN fibers, for later carbonization treatments as well as to make flame-retardant fabrics.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH
This invention was made with Government support under Contract No. DE-AC05-000R22725 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to UT-Battelle, LLC, and the Government has certain rights in this invention.