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additives | Flame retardants


on increasing importance as electronic components continue to decrease in size. “The heavier bromine molecule means significantly less additive is required than with comparable technologies, “ he notes. “We believe that non halogenated flame retardants


Above: The market for flame retardants in polystyrene insulation is undergoing a global shake-up


technologies for polystyrene building insulation foam is China. The country has just applied for an exemption for HBCD under the Stockholm Convention that will allow it to stay on the market, most likely for another five years. “We think three years should be enough, but we under- stand that in some places, industry needs more time to adjust,” Davidson says. Chemtura is busy promoting EI 3000, in the country, along with value chain partners, including polystyrene producer (and licensor of the polymeric flame retardant technology) Dow Chemical. EI 3000 still contains bromine but as Kasturirangan (K) Kannah, Global Advocacy Manager with Chemtura, puts it: “The argument should not be halogenated versus non-halogenated. Any new innovations should be polymeric or reactive to ensure sustainability.” Kannah says that nearly 90% of Chemtura’s BFR portfolio is polymeric or reactive. “We are finding that NGOs, regulators and academic researchers are now also beginning to extoll the benefits of these types of flame retardants. These are people who in the past have had very little good to say about flame retardants.”


Right: ICL has a range of


different FRs


for electronic applications such as


connectors


Fixed on halogen-free Is it too late to stop high-profile specifiers taking a dogmatic non-halogen approach? “It’s entrenched in the consumer electronics world, but we can see some parties modifying their stance,” says Kannah. “We have to keep shining the light on good science. We need to show people how we can make bromine a safe molecule by locking it into systems.” Kannah says some OEMs in China are rolling back their non-halogen programmes. In automotive electronics, for example, Davidson


says the focus is more on the efficacy of flame retard- ants, rather than on their exact chemical nature; the net result being that BFRs continue to be more widely used. Kannah also points to the advantage that BFRs have in terms of their efficiency—an argument that is taking


16 COMPOUNDING WORLD | December 2016 www.compoundingworld.com


will remain for a while, since these chemistries are well entrenched within the E&E sector globally,” says Davidson. “However, it is probable that regulatory pressure will increase on these chemistries as well, which will eventually drive the market towards the polymeric and reactive variety, as with brominated substances.” ICL is best known for its brominated flame retardants, but it also offers aryl phosphates for PVC (Phosflex, which also act as a plasticiser) and Fyrolflex phosphate ester oligomers for styrenic-based products and polycarbon- ates. Other offerings include high purity FR-20 magne- sium hydroxide (MDH) for low smoke, zero halogen wire and cable compounds for automotive applications. Last year, the company launched an assessment tool


called SAFR (Systematic Assessment of Flame Retard- ants), which it says provides a rigorous evaluation of flame retardants in specific applications enabling users to choose the most sustainable product for the intended use (see Compounding World December 2015). “Our goal is to establish SAFRas the gold standard to ensure the most sustainable FRs by using scientific data,” says Product Stewardship Manager Lein Tange.


Understanding risk Tange emphasises the need to distinguish between hazard and risk. “Something may be hazardous, but if there is no exposure to it, there is no risk,” he says. “Insulation foam between walls: is there a risk? A PWB in your mobile phone: is the customer exposed to it? No. But you do have frequent contact with the enclosure around your television. These criteria have been built into the methodology.” ICL is currently evaluating SAFR with other companies in the value chain.


s


PHOTO: ICL


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