A panel discussion on “Formulating with non-halogenated flame retardants”, was led by Maggie Baumann, FRX Polymers and pinfa-na, with Steven Blazey, A. Schulman, Roger Avakian, Polyone, Kerry Smith, Nabaltec, Subra Narayan, Clariant and Chris Thornton, consultant to pinfa.
Maggie Baumann presented pinfa-na principal activities: dialogue with regulators and the value chain, organisation of thematic workshops to enable dialogue with end-users and stakeholders.
A show of hands in the conference indicated that more participants are today working with or intending to work with PIN FRs than halogenated.
Drivers to move to PIN FRs: were identified by the panel as existing regulations and expected future regulation, sustainability image, low corrosion in processing, low corrosion in use, low smoke emission and low smoke toxicity, and low product density in the polymer.
The panellists emphasised that the move to PIN FR is very rarely a simple replacement, and requires new understanding to identify appropriate new polymer – PIN FR – synergist solutions. Legacy small molecule additive FRs such as Deca-BDE were “one-for-all” FRs, whereas PIN solutions are polymer and application specific.
Dialogue must start with the customer, to define their real needs and requirements, but also their constraints in terms of timing. Often non-halogenated packages can provide the best available solution, in particular with low smoke emission, low heat release rate, colour and UV stability.
An advantage of moving to PIN FR formulation is generally to improve understanding of performance requirements, including aspects such as colour dispersion, weathering, electrical characteristics. Dialogue on reformulation should start with defining the polymer system which it may be appropriate to update.
PIN FRs offer importantly varying characteristics, for example different grades of mineral PIN FRs will offer different performance and different polymer and processing compatibility. Specific expertise is needed, regarding choice of PIN FR – polymer – synergist package, to define appropriate testing, and to address processing challenges. As this AMI conference shows, this expertise is today available through compounders, the PIN FR and polymer industries, processing equipment companies and formulation specialists who can ensure dialogue between these different actors.
Conference participants’ comments noted that industry end-users, for example major cable manufacturers, are moving to PIN FR formulations in order to be able to supply the same product worldwide. Regulations already push to move to PIN FRs in some applications (e.g. smoke emission and toxicity in aviation, railways, and in the EU Construction Product Directive) or some regions of the world (e.g. obligation to separate electrical and electronic wastes containing brominated FRs under the EU WEEE Directive) and companies are moving to PIN FRs or wish to prepare this move in anticipation of future further such regulation. The move to PIN FRs is also driven by sustainability requirements imposed by leading global OEMs or supermarkets.