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Flame Retardants in Plastics: Interview with Dow Corning (Chinaplas 2017)

SpecialChem – May 25, 2017

Chinaplas 2017 - We interviewed Christophe Paulo, Dow Corning's Global Segment Leader, Plastics & Composites. Watch & discover what he said about recent regulatory developments, upcoming trends as well as the challenges ahead related to flame retardancy in the plastics markets.

Christophe Paulo, Dow Corning
Christophe Paulo works with Dow Corning’s global and regional teams to identify market trends that impact product portfolio strategy decisions. He earned a Bachelor of Science in organic chemistry and a Master of Science in polymers chemistry and physicochemistry from the University Bordeaux in France. He received a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

What have been for you the most significant changes in the last 3 years regarding flame retardancy in the plastics markets?

Most flame retardant (FR) chemicals come with a certain level of toxic effects, such as acting as a carcinogen or endocrine disruptor. For this reason, regulation pressure on toxic FR chemicals has dramatically increased, and we’ve noticed significant changes.

For example, there have been modifications of existing regulations including:

  • California Technical Bulletin 117-2013, Flammability Standard Requirements for Upholstered Furniture, which requires smolder tests for fabrics, rather than open flame tests for foam, to minimize the need for flame retardants.
  • The harmonized European EN 45545 railway standard for on fire safety in rolling stock, which promotes the use of non-halogenated FR additives.
  • The European construction products regulation, EN 305/2011, which harmonizes FR testing across Europe and increases pressure to reduce threshold levels of halogenated FR additives.

Regulatory Changes in Flame Retardants

We can only praise these types of decisions because they force the industry to look for more-sustainable solutions that both protect against fire hazards and present limited to zero effect on human health.

Which trends do you see in the next 5 years regarding the selection of flame retardant systems?

I foresee two trends. First, I believe regulatory pressure will accelerate the phase-out of chemicals that have been used for years but are believed to be substances of concern. Enforcement of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) standard is prompting the industry to assess all current FR options, and also incentivizing additive manufacturers to devote significant effort to new molecule development and reformulation.

Since plastics are often the most economical answer to our daily needs, the move to reduce toxicity of FR additives will have significant implications for total solution cost. Cost control will drive the second trend, which I believe will be harmonization. To achieve quicker payback and amortization, customers are eager to find FR solutions that meet regulations across the globe. Creating such universal solutions will be the industry’s biggest challenge.

How is Dow answering these evolving needs and challenges?

Over the past few years we have been focusing on halogen-free flame-retardant (HFFR) additives and have provided unique, silicone-based solutions for polyolefins and engineering resins. As a result of our efforts to facilitate access to silicone technologies, Dow has brought solutions for polyethylene (PE), polycarbonate (PC) and polyamide (PA) to the market to enhance, extend and/or reinforce these materials.

Flame-retardant Additives for Wire and Cable Insulation and Jacketing
  • Dow Corning® MB25-502 Masterbatch for enhanced processability of HFFR PE compounds for wire and cable insulation and jacketing
  • Dow Corning® 40-001 Additive for improving flame retardancy while maintaining transparency in polycarbonate compounds
  • Dow Corning® 43-821 Additive to restore mechanical properties and reduce corrosivity in PA compounds containing high loadings of organo-phosphorous HFFR additives 

Working in close collaboration with our customers enables Dow to quickly develop new solutions and to support compounders and manufacturers through their implementations.

Are your fire resistant plastics up-to-date? Check Now!

Keep your fire resistant plastics in tune with ever toughening market requirements by joining the course: Halogen-free Flame Retardants: Optimal Selection for Better Performance and revise halogen-free flame retardant technologies.

Halogen-free Flame Retardants

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