US Dow converts Japan XPS factories to PolyFR, plans same worldwide

14 February 2014 17:22 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Dow Chemical has converted its three extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam plants in Japan to use its polymeric flame retardant (PolyFR) technology and has plans to convert its plants in Europe, the Middle East and North America, the company said on Friday.

Dow Kakoh, a joint venture of Dow Building Solutions, has started producing XPS with PolyFR, Dow said.

“The new product has been extensively tested and has proven to maintain its flame retardant performance while having a more sustainable profile,” Takahiro Sugiyama, president of Dow Kakoh, said in a news release.

The conversion allows the new PolyFR-containing products to be available to the construction industry in commercial quantities before Japanese regulations banning the use of the previous flame retardant take effect in May 2014, Sugiyama said.

Hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), the previous flame retardant used in extruded polystyrene foam, has come under fire for its bioaccumulative and toxic properties. US and European regulators are moving to restrict the use of HBCD, and will potentially ban its production.

In September 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report on alternatives to HBCD, which stated that a butadiene styrene brominated copolymer like PolyFR would be safer than HBCD, Dow said.

Dow developed PolyFR, a stable high molecular weight, non-PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic) substance that can be used in XPS and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foams. In 2011, Dow licenced the technology in the foam insulation industry through manufacturing and marketing licences.

International licencees Chemtura and Albemarle have built commercial production capacity for the new PolyFR of more than 14,000 tonnes at the end of 2013, which will be expanded to more than 25,000 tonnes by the end of 2014, Dow said.

By Jessie Waldheim