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Flame retardants | additives


Flame retardants trend to polymerics


Environmental concerns and tightening global regulations are driving interest in polymeric and reactive flame retardants as well as halogen-free systems, writes Peter Mapleston


Which flame retardants have a sustainable future? The answer to that question in recent times has been ‘halogen-free types’ but ‘polymeric and reactive types’ is now also being heard quite frequently—especially, and perhaps not surprisingly, from suppliers of brominated flame retardants (BFRs). Synergistic flame retardant systems are also playing an increasingly important role. Polymeric molecules avoid the problem of several


types of low molecular weight brominated flame retardants that are subject to bans or extreme restric- tions in use: they cannot enter the cell membrane of living creatures. Polymers cannot, therefore, be classi- fied as Persistent, Bio-accumulative and Toxic (PBT). Executives at BFR suppliers point to a considerable change in the flame retardants market, especially around HBCD hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). This long-time flame retardant of choice for styrenic insulation foams is a relatively small molecule and is classified both as PBT and as a Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP). HBCD is subject to a global phase out under the UN


Stockholm Convention over the next few years - it has already been phased out in Europe and Japan and other regions are following. Canada for example will phase


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out HBCD by the end of December, says Albemarle Global Business Director Tina Craft, who adds that the company “has a unique compaction process developed through working directly with our customers to ensure that they achieve the highest performance in formulat- ing for both the EPS and XPS process.” Craft says this has been invaluable to the market during the transition from HBCD to Albemarle’s alternative, GreenCrest. The decision to sell its Martinswerk mineral-based


flame retardants business earlier this year to Huber Corp, already a major played in the mineral products, has enabled Albemarle to focus on its GreenCrest and Saytex brominated flame retardants. Craft says the company is working on some important developments in the Saytex line but it is too early to go public on these. Chemtura’s polymeric FR offering for the polysty-


rene insulation market, EmeraId Innovation 3000 (EI 3000), was launched in 2012 to replace HBCD. “It’s all about how global markets are adopting various alternative technologies. This is a very important opportunity for us to grow our business,” says John Davidson, Vice President for the Great Lakes Solutions Bromine and Derivatives BU within Chemtura. Davidson points out that one big market that still needs to make a decision about future flame retardant


December 2016 | COMPOUNDING WORLD 15 Main image:


Fire remains a persistent risk but the safety of various


flame retardant systems is also a subject of high concern for regulators


PHOTO: CLARIANT


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