Posted on 15/10/2019 in Furniture & Textiles Fire Safety 2019
Fire safety for polyurethanes

Rolf Albach, Covestro

Covestro sees fire safety as an increasing challenge in all applications of plastic foams, in particular in buildings, where such foams offer the best insulation performance, cost effectiveness and adaptability of materials available. At this FRPM conference, ECHA showed early warning flags for chlorinated flame retardants, suggesting some risk of future regulation. Covestro has global R&D capacities and is developing its own chemistries to ensure non-halogenated fire safety in polyurethane. Part of this has been shown at the FRPM conference in collaboration with the IPF Dresden. Non-halogenated replacements for TCPP are today available, but the objective is to develop new chemistries with even better fire and foam material performance, and to ensure full compatibility with Covestro’s customers’ processing equipment (no corrosion or abrasion in extrusion and foaming). Tomorrow’s solutions will tend to be integrated into the foam polymers, to improve processing and performance, and to minimize issues with FR emissions from foams. Covestro’s aim is to provide chemistry expertise to support customers (foam producers), including combining fire engineering and materials fire performance to achieve fire safety most efficiently.

Covestro, is a world leading polymer manufacturer, offering a range of application solutions. The company has 30 sites in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Covestro produces polyurethane (PUR), polyisocyanurate (PIR) and polycarboxylate rigid foams, as well as flexible foams for furniture and bedding.

Nadja Richter, Nima Esmaeili, Huntsman Polyurethanes

Huntsman considers that polyurethanes offer one of the most cost efficient solutions for achieving high performance insulation – be it to improve the energy efficiency of buildings or reduce noise vibration harshness and increase thermal management and acoustic control in demanding transport and automotive applications. Huntsman is working on developing new flame retardant solutions for polyurethanes which can deliver better long-term fire safety performance and reduce the risk of fire retardants migrating out of end products. Huntsman is also looking closely at the reduction of smoke emissions in line with new EU Construction Products Regulation “Euroclasses”. Currently, solutions are available, but pose challenges of price and of compatibility with existing processing (foaming) techniques. Innovative new solutions may combine several technologies, but must be realistic – bringing to market products that are compatible with current manufacturing methods and end-of-life recycling. To meet these challenges it’s essential to ensure quality and consistency of materials by controlling production, and to work closely together with foamers and end users to develop product specifications that meet specific processing, performance and regulatory requirements.

Huntsman Polyurethanes is a global leader in MDI-based polyurethanes, serving over 3,000 customers in more than 90 countries from production facilities in the US, the Netherlands and China, as well as 30 downstream formulation facilities worldwide. Applications include insulation, timber products, coatings and adhesives, footwear, automotive, bedding and furniture and thermoplastic polyurethanes suitable for extrusion and injection molding.

Oliver Steffen Henze, BASF Polyurethanes GmbH

TPU (thermoplastic polyurethanes) are high performance elastomers used in extrusion (e.g. cables, films, tubes) and injection moulding applications (e.g. plugs, electronic connectors). Formulations are tailor-made, often in low volumes, for customers’ specific components and uses. BASF supplies only non-halogenated formulations of flame retardant TPU for over twenty years. Customers’ requirements are increasingly demanding, covering fire safety performance, mechanical and aesthetic properties and processing requirements. Trends include increasing specification for low smoke and low toxicity of combustion gases, and sustainability criteria. Increasingly demanding fire safety requirements in combination with high mechanical requirements are opening opportunities for replacement of other materials by TPUs. BASF sees future flame retardants in TPUs as additive, because processing is easier than for reactive compounds and additive FR packages enable the rapid tailor-made formulation response needed for specific customer product demands. The FRPM conference provides information about FR innovation which could provide new fire safety solutions for tomorrow, such as synergist additives and novel PIN flame retardants.

BASF produces a range of polyurethanes, including both tailored systems and basic products (polyether polyols, polyester polyols, MDI and TDI) for manufacturing cellular PU foam materials and compact polyurethanes, including elastomers: thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and microcellular elastomers. BASF provides not only polymers and compounds, but also service to customers to help define appropriate compounds, implement processing, as well as appropriate R&D and testing.

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