Following the announcement that Dow Building Solutions has completed the conversion of its three Styrofoam extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam plants in Japan to new Polymeric Flame Retardant (PolyFR) technology, the group has announced that other regions around the world will follow suit.
“The new product has been extensively tested and has proven to maintain its flame retardant performance while having a more sustainable profile,” said Takahiro Sugiyama, President of Dow Kakoh, a joint venture of Dow Building Solutions. “We have made the new PolyFR containing product available to customers in commercial quantities in order for the construction industry to meet the Japanese regulations banning the use of the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) as of May 2014.”
Dow Building Solutions will convert all of its Styrofoam XPS foam plants in North America, Europe, Middle East, and Japan to the new PolyFR technology. The phased process is part of Dow’s strategy to make the global change whilst not impacting on availability.
“This allows for a controlled conversion process that meets our quality requirements in every region and at the same time ensures product availability meeting global regulatory demands,” said Inken Beulich, Research & Development Director for Dow Building Solutions Europe and Project Leader for the new PolyFR.
In September 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) released a draft report on alternatives for the flame retardant HBCD. The agency presented the findings in the report to help manufacturers identify safer alternatives to the use of HBCD in polystyrene building insulation. In the report, the EPA states that “the butadiene styrene brominated copolymer is anticipated to be safer than HBCD.”
Dow introduced PolyFR back in 2011. The group claims that the substance is “stable, high molecular weight, non-PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic)”. It was developed as a more sustainable fire safety additive for XPS and EPS foams.
The new PolyFR technology has received a number of business innovation awards including the 2012 R&D 100 Award, the 4th Annual Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Award, and the 2012 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Runners-up Award in the ‘Materials and Other Base Technologies’ category.
Dow has made the PolyFR technology available to the global extruded polystyrene (XPS) and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation industry through three manufacturing and marketing licensees. The international licensees, Chemtura (Emerald Innovation 3000), ICL (FR-122P) and Albemarle (GreenCrest), have built commercial production capacity for the new polymeric flame retardant amounting to more than 14,000 MT at the end of 2013 which will be expanded to more than 25,000 MT by the end of 2014.