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Home / News / US’ FRX, Sichuan develop 1st halogen-free flame-retardant fabric

US' FRX, Sichuan develop 1st halogen-free flame-retardant fabric

07 Oct '22
3 min read
Pic: Shutterstock/ Oleksandr Berezko
Pic: Shutterstock/ Oleksandr Berezko

American chemicals company FRX Innovations Inc and China’s Sichuan EM Technology Co Ltd have collaborated to develop the world’s first halogen-free inherent flame-retardant upholstery fabric solution capable of meeting the stringent British Fire Standard BS 5852; part 1 for furniture. The solution is environmentally sustainable and permanent.

The introduction of the new fabric technology, Glentham anti-dripping FR Polyester fibre and yarn solution, comes on the heels of new regulations banning the content of Persistent Organic Pollutants like halogenated flame retardants, in recycled furniture sold in the UK, according to a press release by FRX Innovations.

According to UK regulations, upholstered furniture needs to be fire retardant to ignition by a cigarette and by a small flame like a match, and must meet British Standard BS 5852; part1, a very stringent fire test. Today, most upholstery fabrics are treated with halogen contained flame retardant chemicals to meet this standard.

While these solutions do reduce the risk of fire, toxicity concerns due to the flame-retardant system remains. Moreover, as of January 1, 2023, persistent organic pollutants like halogenated flame retardants will be required to be disposed of like chemical waste which means that furniture treated with these persistent organic chemicals will need to be incinerated and will no longer be allowed to be land filled.

Sichuan has launched a series of fabrics, based on Nofia Polyphosphonate halogen-free flame retardants, which meet the British Standard while at the same time offer permanence of FR performance after numerous wash cycles. Sichuan’s Glentham anti-dripping FR Polyester fibre and yarn solution, based on modified polyester fibres with a high phosphorous content (22,000 parts per million or ppm), show exceptionally high resistance against ignition in both surface and edge ignition. At the same time, they provide outstanding textile properties such as hand and feel, breathability, and abrasion resistance. Nofia Flame Retardants from FRX is the only halogen-free FR technology capable of such high loading in polyester fabrics. Other halogen-free technologies are limited to about 6500ppm of phosphorus and thus could not meet the UK’s stringent fire safety standards.

The fabrics come in blends with wool, cotton, or viscose and have the natural feel of organic fibres, the strength of polyester, and breathability needed for cosy and comfortable seating. With comfort, safety, and sustainability these fabrics will set a new performance bar not previously possible, added the release.

“The UK government’s strict Furniture Fire Safety regulations coupled with new regulations limiting disposal of furniture treated with persistent organic pollutants has enabled new innovative materials to come onto the market, which provides the market with a ‘no compromise’ fabric that is safe regarding both fire hazards and human health,” said Marc Lebel, CEO of FRX.

The development opens new opportunities for flame retardant fabrics without the use of halogenated flame retardants which are already banned in the European Union (EU) and will also come under regulatory pressure shortly in the UK as well. Based on publicly available information, this joint development gives access to roughly 20 million square meters per year (400 g per square meter) of upholstery fabrics in the UK alone and an estimated market potential of around $500 million.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (NB)

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