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Sustainable flame retardant development: polyurethane foams with superior fire performance characteristics (suspur)

To develop and commercialise environment-friendly flame retardant hard and soft polyurethane (pu)foams. This will be achieved by incorporation of novel dopo based flame retardant (fr) additives which will be synthesized and up-scaled in this project.

Polyurethane based foams are commonly used in consumer and industrial applications such as thermal insulation of buildings, refrigerators, household furniture, automotive seating, shoe sole etc. Being a very flammable material it needs the usage of flame retardant ( FR)additives for certain applications. Currently polyurethane based rigid and flexible polyurethane ( PU ) foams require the usage of chlorinated phosphates as FR additive. Although these chlorinated phosphates are quite cheap and compatible with the manufacturing process of the PU foams, there usage leads to potential problems like toxicity and fogging during usage. Over the past decade more and more halogenated flame retardants like TCPP (tris-2-chloro propyl phosphate) were banned by environmental authorities or phased out by chemical manufactures due to severe environmental and health concerns.[1] Numerous of these halogenated flame retardants are very toxic, carcinogenic and/or bio accumulative. That’s why nowadays researchers are looking for alternative flame retardant additives that are more benign to human beings and the environment. Over the past two years EMPA together with Foam Partner have carried out preliminary work on development of halogen free flame retardants for soft PU foams. This work has resulted in a development of novel class of halogen free flame retardant based on 9,10-dihydro-10-oxa-phosphaphenantren-oxide (DOPO). Some of these derivatives have been shown to be very effective and much superior in fire performance as compared to currently used chlorophosphates. However the synthesis method developed for such FR compounds is not sustainable, has adverse environmental impact and relatively expensive for commercialization. Moreover due to limited time period of the previous project the FR compounds couldn’t be tested in detail in various classes of flexible PU foams as well as rigid polyurethane. Thus the main objectives of this project is to develop sustainable synthetic methods (upscalable in Industrial level) for development of various DOPO derivatives and evaluate them for flame retardancy in rigid and flexible PU foams. This will be carried out by first developing sustainable methods (green solvents, non toxic reagents) and use of economical chemicals for synthesis of DOPO derivatives in laboratory scale, adapting the lab synthesis methods to industrial processes. the flame retardant thus developed will be evaluated in various kinds of rigid and flexible foams at industrial level. A special focus would be to develop special methods for applying solid FRs in PU foam manufacturing. Synergistic combinations with other co-additives will be carried out to enhance the fire retardancy of the DOPO derivatives and increase the barrier performance of the foams in active fire. It is also planned to carry out the REACH registration of the DOPO derivatives ( first two stages) so as to be able to commercialize the new products within the next 3 years from start of the project. Through this project the industrial project partners will gain unique FR technology and will be able to provide green and sustainable PU foam based products which will give them tremendous global market advantages. The new sustainable method developed in this project for synthesis of halogen free FR will form the basis of development of other phosphorus based FRs for plastics industry.
Acronym: 
SUSPUR
Project ID: 
8 058
Start date: 
03-06-2013
Project Duration: 
30months
Project costs: 
1 090 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Plastics, Polymers
Market Area: 
Chemicals and Materials

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.