FRX Polymers Inc., a global manufacturer of polymeric halogen-free, flame-retardant solutions headquartered in Chelmsford, MA, has secured $22 million in Series D equity financing led by a Beijing-based investment group. Other parties participating in the financing were FRX Polymers’ current shareholders including PMV Tina Fund, Capricorn Venture Partners, FXP Holdings, Evonik Venture Capital, Mubadala Capital, RobecoSam, Israel Cleantech Fund and other stakeholders, including the company’s employees and senior management group.
The financing will be used to fund the company’s growth into China and other parts of the world, according to Marc Lebel, President and CEO of FRX Polymers. China is the fastest-growing region for flame-retardant plastics, according to the company. “We are delighted to have completed our Series D financing and welcome our new strategic partner,” said Lebel. “Their involvement comes at a critical time as the company makes a strong push to expand its market in Asia and especially in mainland China. It is important to us that all of our key investors share the same vision and commitment as we embark on the next phase of our growth plan.”
FRX Polymers has developed what Lebel calls a “game-changing product line of polymeric additives to address the global need for non-halogen flame-retardant plastics.” FRX Polymers is the developer and producer of a new, environmentally friendly family of inherently flame-retardant plastics and oligomers, trade named Nofia. The company is currently in the high growth phase of commercializing its unique family of polyphosphonate homopolymers, copolymers and oligomers. These non-halogen flame retardants are tough and transparent, and possess high melt flow for use in consumer electronics, textiles, building and construction, and transportation markets.
Nofia phosphonates replace halogenated flame retardants, which are being phased out because of toxicity concerns. They are being sold as polymeric flame-retardant additives and engineering plastics, and as reactive flame-retardant additives for thermosetting resins.
Nofia phosphonates are produced using sustainable green chemistry principles, such as a solvent-free production process that produces no waste by-products and achieves near 100% atom efficiency. The company’s portfolio includes an extensive and growing patent estate: To date, the company has nearly 200 patent applications, 99 of which have been granted.
Marc Lebel told PlasticsToday that flame retardants vary—some are made using green chemistry principles and some are not—but they often get put into the same category. “We started developing our products in 2003, when we saw the handwriting on the wall with respect to the prospect of regulations in the flame-retardant industry,” he said. “We developed a polymeric form of flame-retardant additive, an actual high-molecular-weight plastic additive in pellet form that could be compounded into the plastic and wouldn’t migrate out of the host plastic material. Our idea was, no matter whether the chemical is safe or not, you don’t want it to migrate out so as not to expose people to chemicals. In addition, flame retardance effectiveness should not be lost over time.”
Lebel added that the company’s material is fully transparent. “It also has excellent electrical properties, making it especially well-suited for the printed circuit board industry, and offers really good flame retardancy for polyester textiles. At 6% loading, it gives the polyester permanent flame retardancy. Because the flame retardant is inherent to the material, it can be washed and will continue to provide protection. Having an inherent solution is a big plus in the textile industry,” Lebel said.
FRX Polymers has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the EPA’s Environmental Merit Award, the Belgium Business Award for the Environment and the Flanders Investment of the Year Award. The company was also recognized three times on the Global Cleantech 100 list and has been a three-time Frost and Sullivan Award winner for Innovation and Customer Value Leadership.
Lebel concluded, “Our basic view is that we really believe in producing sustainable, safe materials. Our customers need not make a compromise between environmental safety and fire safety, both can coexist in the same product.”
FRX Polymers is a co-founder of PINFA (Phosphorus, Inorganic, Nitrogen Flame Retardant Association), an organization made up of like-minded companies.