Market Trends in Non-halogen Flame Retardants: A JMME Market Analysis

In response to a number of market drivers, manufacturers of non-halogen flame retardant additives and original equipment manufacturers have been challenged to prophecy for their product lines as they consider a future that is clearly undefined and subject to potentially limitless change due to regulatory oversight. However, some key trends have developed over the past few years and these also lead to changes in development direction, product rationalization and introduction, and changes in market requirements. These trends are developing due to the expressed needs within the marketplace for key product requirements including:

– environmental concerns,

– regulatory concerns,

– end user requirements and

– end of life concerns.

Key trends in non-halogen flame retardant additives include:

1) Toxicity findings slow drive in non-halogen flame retardant growth, but could also provide near-term opportunity —

The long awaited toxicological findings for decabromodiphenyl ether and tetrabromobisphenol-A announced in 2005 appear to have affected market interest in alternative materials. While this downward turn has become evident late in 2005, the regulatory scrutiny of halogenated flame retardants is expected to be persistent in the coming years and successive regulatory initiatives are expected. Current civil and regulatory cases concerning perfluorochemicals could provide opportunity for future developments in non-halogen systems as opposed to halogen-free systems; however, this presents a formulating issue for many non-halogen compounders as perfluorochemicals provide anti-drip and external lubrication properties to highly filled compounds.

2) Polymer shifts to polyolefins drive magnesium hydroxide growth —

Magnesium hydroxide use has grown due to shifts in two marketplaces:

– EPDM roofing systems shifting to polyolefin roofing systems, and

– polyvinyl chloride siding to polyolefin siding.

With significant indications that polyolefin resin developments will continue to build upon metallocene capabilities, the polyolefin resin family may offer a wider range for application development based upon resin replacement opportunities. Because processing temperatures of polyolefins are higher than the decomposition temperature of aluminum trihydrate, the growth in polyolefin presents opportunities for magnesium hydroxide growth and the development of other flame retardant systems with higher heat tolerance.

3) Siloxane and boron chemistry may hold key to future —
Siloxane chemistry is under review in many applications and development programs are not limited to any one particular resin system or market application; however siloxane materials provide significant cost and processing hurdles to formulators. The primary benefit of siloxane chemistry is the resilience of siloxane materials and improvements to physical performance they potentially provide to finished products containing non-halogen flame retardant additives.

Boron chemistry is under review with the potential for providing a key mechanism to a universal flame retardant for polymers used in aviation and space vehicles; however, while mechanisms are being considered, routes and materials to achieve successful implementation of those mechanisms are still lagging. Boron chemistry provides excellent opportunity to formulators for reducing smoke development from compounds to meet egress requirements from interior finish.

While both chemistries offer promise for the future, it is unlikely that the time horizon for success is less than 15 years. The key to the trend in development with these chemistries will be improved physical properties and enhanced char performance to reduce smoke and provide better fire protection.

4) Nanocomposites are coming —

Nanocomposite metal hydrates are under development and in limited cases being used commercially. Nanocomposites offer the promise of reducing loading levels and improving performance characteristics in many polymer systems. Nanocomposite technology for magnesium hydroxide could be the key to future opportunity albeit at reduced load levels for the flame retardant additive. The relative impact in other non-halogen flame retardant chemistries is yet to be determined.

5) Recycling and waste reclamation programs —

Two primary programs in the European Community are providing substantial impetus to recycling efforts in very large global consumer markets, WEEE and ELV. WEEE is the European Community directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment which, together with the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC, became European Law in February 2003, setting collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods. ELV is the European Community directive 2000/53/EC setting end-of-life vehicle recovery and disposal requirements for cars, vans and certain three-wheeled vehicles and establishing limits on the use of hazardous substances in the manufacture of new vehicles and automotive components. There is a cost driver to vehicle producers requiring them to pay all or a significant part of the costs of treating negative of nil value ELVs at treatment facilities by 2007.

The impact of WEEE and ELV programs affect parts producers and original equipment manufacturers around the world because of global manufacturing locations, global alliances and worldwide parts sourcing. As these directives take root in the supply chain in the coming years and over the next decade, it is expected to drive parts design and composition in other geographical areas of the world due to inventory rationalization at OEMs.

To view the full 50-page review of the market drivers and trends for the non-halogen flame retardant market as analyzed by JMME, Inc., please visit the Newsroom on the JMME website.

JMME, Inc., Copyright 2006, All rights reserved.

Methods In Performing Polymer Analysis And Geomembrane Testing

Polymers and plastics are constantly developed and improved in order to maximize their efficiency. There are several companies that can perform tests in special laboratories in order to find out the properties of a specific polymer. Also, those companies can test geomembranes as well, for resistance and strength.

What does polymer analysis involve?

Testing polymers is a very interesting task and it helps determine the physical and chemical properties of them. For example, one of the most important tests is ageing test. During their extensive lifetime, polymers are exposed to various conditions. The most influential factor is the weather. Different weather conditions as well as prolonged exposure to UV can affect the lifespan of a specific polymer. Professional companies are equipped with advanced systems that can accelerate the weathering process in order to find out the flaws of the polymer

Another test gives information about the compounds of the polymer and if the substances are toxic or not. If a specific polymer wants to hit the market and being used in industry on a large scale, it needs to be inoffensive when it interacts with humans.

What does geomembrane testing involve?

Geomembranes are made up of impermeable membranes and they are used in water containment applications, for example. There are tests that can find out the qualities of a specific geomembrane. For example, some tests offer useful information regarding the breaking strength, brittleness temperature, resistance, hardness and volatile properties. The tests are undertaken in special laboratories and help different companies and vendors create very powerful products.

Where can you test your products?

As stated earlier, there are companies that can do these tests. If you are interested, you can even make use of the internet and find out contact details. Those professional companies are equipped with state-of-the-art technologies that offer a full range of services regarding polymer, plastics and geomembrane testing. All that you have to do is to make a phone call and find out more details.

Why do those tests?

Everything that is released on the market has to be thoroughly tested first to make sure that is safe. This happened for decades and this is how various materials and products that are widely used these days were created. By constantly test polymers and plastics for their properties, various companies that produce them can find out useful information and based on this, they can readjust and reinvent the product until it is perfect and can be used safely.

Polymer analysis is very thorough and it is not limited to the two examples given above. For example, a professional company undertakes composite and mechanical testing, failure analysis, chemistry and microscopy testing and so on. All of those are intended to show the weak points of polymers and give detailed information as well. Usually those tests take some time but it really depends on your case. Each customer has different needs and he is being treated differently. Just get in contact with an experienced and serious company and discuss your case at length. A list of solutions will be tailored to meet your specific needs regarding polymer analysis.

Why is Amino Acid Analysis So Important

Amino acid analysis refers to a variety of methodologies which are used to determine the amino acid content of peptides, proteins and other samples. AA’s, of course, are organic compounds which contain an amino group and a carbolic acid group as well as any of many possible side groups. These side groups are typically linked by peptides, forming proteins or compounds which are employed as intermediates in the metabolic process or as chemical messengers within living organisms.

Proteins and peptides are organized as linear polymers; these macromolecules are composed of covalently bonded AA residues. The properties of a given organic molecule (such as a peptide or protein) are determined by the sequence of AA’s present – data which is gathered through amino acid analysis. A peptide is a smaller molecule, often consisting of only a few amino acids. Proteins, by comparison are large and are generally folded into a specific structural model containing a larger number of AA’s.

Identification and quantification of proteins and peptides can be determined through analysis; it is also used to detect atypical AA’s present in a peptide or protein analyzed as well as for the evaluation of fragmentation strategies in peptide mapping applications. Before the analysis proper can be performed, proteins and peptides must be hydrolyzed to separate their constituent amino acids. After hydrolysis, amino acid analysis can be performed in the same manner as is used for free amino acids (such as is done in preparing pharmaceuticals).

The most common methodology for the analysis of AA’s in a sample involved chromatographic separation of the AA’s present. Automated chromatographic instruments with post column derivation are the most commonly used technologies at present; most analysis of amino acids is most commonly done with a liquid chromatograph (low or high pressure) which can generate mobile phase gradients. This procedure separates the AA analytes in the column.

Background contamination is always a concern when performing AA analysis. High purity reagents are absolutely necessary. For instance, low purity hydrochloric acid can contribute to glycine contamination. Analytical reagents are changed routinely every few weeks using only high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) grade solvents. Potential microbial contamination and foreign material that might be present in the solvents are reduced by filtering solvents before use, keeping solvent reservoirs covered and not placing instruments in direct sunlight.

The accuracy and reliability of the analysis process can be ensures through basic best laboratory practices. The lab must be sterile, instruments installed in a relatively low traffic area and pipettes cleaned (or replaced) and calibrated regularly. Vials containing samples must be opened only when absolutely necessary; contamination by dust can cause elevated glycine, alanine and serine.

Accuracy in AA analysis depends on proper maintenance of the instruments, which should be checked for leaks daily if the equipment is in regular use. The stability of the lamp, detector and the column’s ability to provide proper resolution of individual AA’s should all be checked and filters and other consumables replaced regularly.