Researcher Kumar G. Kumar presented on the properties of GreenArmor™, a new eco-friendly flame retardant, on May 24 at the 21st Annual Conference on Recent Advances on Flame Retardancy of Polymeric Material. GreenArmor is the first solution from Albemarle’s Earthwise™ brand, an eco-friendly family of products.
Consumption of flame retardant chemicals is projected to reach 3.4 billion pounds worldwide by 2010, according to the latest forecast from BCC Research. With such strong growth it is imperative that professionals in the field keep up-to-date on the latest advancements and applications in flame retardancy (FR).
Researcher Kumar G. Kumar’s program highlights included:
The importance of flame retardants for saving lives and protecting property as flame retardants are built into most consumer products we see every day like computers, televisions, sofas, etc.
Research has proven the use of flame retardants in products can result in up to 15 times the amount of escape time from a burning structure. That extra time can mean the difference between life and death. In recent years, concerns have been raised about the impact some flame retardants have on the environment and consumer health.
Earthwise is committed to developing products that are friendly to the planet and all living beings. GreenArmor is a more sustainable alternative to current brominated flame retardants. Unlike some flame retardants, chemically, GreenArmor’s molecules are too large to be absorbed by the human body or by animal life. This prevents the flame retardant from accumulating in the body, and prevents the compound from negatively affecting the ecosystem.
Kumar used High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS, a polymer commonly used in consumer products like TV, monitors etc) as an example. HIPS that contains the new flame retardant maintains very high flame retardant properties as well as other key physical and mechanical properties over many molding cycles. This means that the materials can be used over and over again.
Of course, eco-friendly alternatives can only have a positive impact if they are used, so Kumar presented on the performance of GreenArmor as compared to other flame retardants. Research showed that GreenArmor was just as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, other flame retardants.
Three ways GreenArmor differs from currently used flame retardants:
GreenArmor is a polymeric flame retardant with a molecular weight of over 1000. It is, therefore expected to be non-bioaccumulative and nontoxic. This addresses concerns raised that the previous generation of brominated flame retardants were bioaccumulative. Even though many studies have found brominated flame retardants are non-toxic to the environment, GreenArmor’s polymeric chemical composition is too large to be absorbed by the body or by animal life.
GreenArmor is melt blendable, aiding in processing that leads to production efficiency, and is usable in most of the thermoplastic and thermoset polymers. In cases where some brominated flame retardants are blended together to balance performance between efficient flame retardation and mechanical properties, GreenArmor can be used by itself and provides the best overall properties of any single flame retardant solution.
End product differences
GreenArmor is a very effective and efficient flame retardant. Polymers flame retarded with GreenArmor offer low melt viscosity that is required to fill in the intricate structures of plastic parts. They are thermally stable, color stable and glossy, preserving the intended aesthetics of products. GreenArmor also offers excellent recyclability.
GreenArmor is very effective as a flame retardant and is also environmentally stable. This means that manufacturers will no longer struggle to meet both consumer and environmental needs. GreenArmor was designed to be an eco-friendly flame retardant that exceeds industry standards for the current generation of flame retardants. Kumar’s research confirms that GreenArmor equals and even surpasses current brominated flame retardants in practical measures as well as environmental standards.
Given these advantages, GreenArmor may be picked up by a whole range of manufacturers, which would be great progress toward a partnership between environmental sustainability and flame retardant safety.
About the author
Dr. Kumar G. Kumar, Albemarle Corporation, Senior Research and Development Advisor
With over twenty-one years with Albemarle Corporation, Dr. Kumar Kumar serves as a Senior Research and Development Advisor. He has been working with flame retardant for the past 15 years. He began his work as a synthesis chemist and later changed his focus to customer application and technical services. Dr. Kumar manages the Flame Retardant Thermoplastics application lab and technical service for many flame retardant products for the US and the Asia Pacific. Dr. Kumar also serves as the Research and Development Segment leader for Electronic Enclosures at Albemarle. Dr. Kumar has a number of publications and patents in the Flame Retardant area. Dr. Kumar received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from University of Madras, India.