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FRX promotes phosphorous-based polymer for FR applications

Armed with proprietary technology and led by plastics industry titans, including Mr. Polycarbonate, startup company FRX Polymers (Chelmsford, MA) is proposing an answer to concerns about halogen-based flame retardants (FR) in the form of a phosphorous-derived inherently-flame-retardant polymer.

(Chelmsford, MA) is proposing an answer to concerns about halogen-based flame retardants (FR) in the form of a phosphorous-derived inherently-flame-retardant polymer. FRX, which says halogen-containing FR additives represent more than 60% of the current market demand, is ramping up production of a polyphosphonate polymer it says is inherently flame retardant and transparent, while offering high flow and utilizing polycondensation production methods applied for polycarbonate (PC) and polyester, which lower its production costs.

In a presentation at the Clean Technology Business Forum & Competition, held during the Society of Plastics Engineers’ (SPE) Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC; Feb. 25-27, Orlando, FL), FRX President and CEO Marc Lebel said leading electronics manufacturers like Apple, Dell, Samsung, LG, and Phillips have instituted voluntary bans on halogen-containing FRs in their products, creating a tremendous opportunity in what he estimates as the $11.5 billion/yr FR compound and $3.5 billion/yr FR additive market.

FRX won the Clean Technology competition, besting runner up PolyNew (Golden, CO), which is developing microwaveable polylactic-acid-based (PLA) trays for frozen foods, and Polyflow (Akron, OH), which is using a patent-pending chemical process to break down mixed-waste polymers into monomers and light fuels. Other entrants included SunBrite Packaging, Cool Energy, and Exotech Bio Solutions (MPW served as a competition judge).

FRX has 32 patents and patent applications for the technology and in addition to CEO Lebel, founding president and former CEO of DSM Thermoplastic Elastomers, it boasts Dieter Freitag as its chief technology officer. Freitag, a 33-year veteran of Bayer MaterialScience, earned the Mr. Polycarbonate moniker for his extensive work with the material, with those efforts ultimately producing more than 430 patents and leading to his 2006 induction into the Plastics Hall of Fame.

FRX has partnered with Uhde Inventa-Fischer to produce a semiworks facility in Switzerland for the material, which it will market as a polymer and an additive, with 1000 tons/yr capacity by 2010. The company is also working to license the technology to leading polycarbonate suppliers, including Bayer and Sabic Innovative Plastics.

In terms of the polymer’s FR performance, Lebel said it achieved a UL V0 rating at .75 mm with full transparency, as well as rating 825°C in glow-wire testing. Lebel said Bayer had investigated the technology in the 1990s, using yellow phosphorous as a feedstock for polymers, but experienced problems with the resin’s glass-transition temperature, hydrolytic stability, and cost. For the new product, glass transition for neat material is 107°C. In a 65/35 PC/polyphosphonate copolymer, glass transition is 135°C, which compares favorably with pure PC’s 147°C. [email protected]

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