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Flame retardants meet changing demands of polyurethane market

Great Lakes Chemical Corporation : 26 June, 2003  (New Product)
Great Lakes Chemical Corporation has introduced three flame retardants that meet changing demands of the polyurethane foam market sparked by regulatory actions in North America and Europe.
Great Lakes recently introduced Firemaster 520 flame retardant, a highly reactive, proprietary, bromine-containing diol for use with alternative blowing agents in rigid polyurethane and polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam applications.

Historically, flame retardancy for these applications has been achieved by using Great Lakes PHT4-Diol flame retardant or chlorinated phosphate esters. However, with the Montreal protocol calling for phase-out of the standard blowing agent, hydrochlorofluorocarbon, foam manufacturers are revising their formulations to accommodate alternative blowing agents, which require a flame retardant with higher reactivity.

Firemaster 520 flame retardant is effective with alternative blowing agents and, with its primary hydroxyl reactive groups, offers faster reaction rates, lower viscosity, and improved compatibility in water-blown systems. The higher level of reactivity has also been shown to increase line speed in continuous laminating foam machines.

Rigid polyurethane and PIR foams are used in pour-in-place architectural panels and walk-in coolers, spray foam applications, and continuous boardstock products such as roofing and sheathing. In addition, these foams are used in the building and construction industry for thermal insulation, as well as in polyurethane-based adhesives and sealants.

With the flame retardants traditionally used in flexible polyurethane foam—halogen-based pentabromodiphenyl ether (penta-BDE) and chlorinated phosphate ester (TCEP)—under regulatory review, manufacturers of cushioned furniture and automotive and mass transportation seating are also searching for cost-effective alternatives.

In North America, foam manufacturers are looking to high performance, non-BDE (non-bromodiphenyl ether) based additives, such as Great Lakes' Firemaster 550 flame retardant. This brominated non-BDE flame retardant is highly efficient for low-density foams and offers superior thermal stability and anti-scorch properties compared to chlorinated phosphate esters. Scorch, where the centre of the foam bun gets too hot and discolours, is a critical issue in regions of high temperature and humidity such as the Southern US and Asia.

For the European automotive foam market, Great Lakes developed Reofos NHP flame retardants, a series of halogen-free, phosphate ester flame retardants that meet MVSS 302 test requirements. Reofos NHP flame retardants provide a cost-effective alternative to chlorinated phosphate esters for the European market and offer excellent low fogging and non-scorch characteristics while maintaining the physical properties of the foam.
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