Growth for halogen-free flame retardant

Paul Boughton

Across Europe, flame retardant chemicals are witnessing a shift towards halogen-free products. Companies are preferring to use new and alternative environment-friendly products that exhibit properties and cost benefits comparable to that of halogenated products.

Even as flame retardant manufacturers strive to offer cost-effective products while maintaining their profit margins, harmonised fire-safety standards mandating the addition of flame retardants in most end-application products will generate promising growth opportunities.

Frost & Sullivan finds that the European Flame Retardant Chemicals Market earned revenues of $714.9 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $1,116.5 million in 2012.

Legislationinnovative products and new end-user applications will dictate the future of flame retardants and support sustainable growth" notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Mahesh Kumar S. "Howevermarket participants will need to address mounting concerns among consumers over health and safety issues while supplying products to European markets."

The fire safety standards adopted by the European Commission over a wide range of end applications are ensuring stable demand for flame retardant chemicals. Heightened public awareness about fire safety and related health issues are compelling companies to include flame retardants in most end products. This trend will intensify in the futureaccompanied by the growing appeal of environment friendly flame retardant additives.

A major challenge for industry participants will be to provide end-product manufacturers with cost-effective flame retardant additives that are both halogen free and environment friendly. Howeverphosphorous-based flame retardants are an expensive substitutewhereas R&D into cost-effective novel alternatives is proving to be elusive. In Europe and the United Statesmarket participants are making efforts to find a means to satisfy these demands while simultaneously complying with stricter legislation.

"Manufacturers are confronting rising raw material and energy costs as well as increased pressure to provide environment-friendly substitutes for halogenated products while keeping product prices low" says Mr Kumar. "Against this backdropsustaining business and profit margins is proving difficult and ismoreoverpreventing several market participants from capitalising on the opportunities being created by various legislatives and directives that oblige manufacturers to incorporate flame retardant chemicals in their end products."

Collaborative R&D initiatives with product manufacturers will help flame retardant chemicals developers design innovative products for existing applications as well as for new end applications. This will help satisfy customer requirements even while helping them sustain their business in the competitive market.

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