A halogen free inherent flame-retardant (FR) upholstery fabric solution is being introduced by FRX Polymers in collaboration with Sichuan EMT. The new technology is capable of meeting the stringent British Fire Standard BS 5852; part 1 for furniture, while providing outstanding touch and feel, all in a solution that is environmentally sustainable and permanent.
The introduction of this new fabric technology, Glentham anti-dripping FR polyester (PET) fiber 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 the 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; part 1, 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 EM Technology Co., Ltd. (EMT), Mianyang/China, 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 EMT’s Glentham anti-dripping FR PET fiber and yarn solution, based on modified PET fibers with a high phosphorous content (22,000 ppm), show very high resistance against ignition in both surface and edge ignition. At the same time, they provide good textile properties such as hand and feel, breathability and abrasion resistance.
Nofia flame retardants produced by manufacturing company FRX Innovations, Antwerp/Belgium, is a halogen-free FR technology capable of such high loading in PET fabrics, according to the company. Other halogen-free technologies are limited to about 6500 ppm 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 the organic fibers, the strength of the PET and breathability needed for cozy and comfortable seating.
This development opens new opportunities for flame retardant fabrics without the use of halogenated flame retardants which are already banned in the EU and will also come under regulatory pressure within the short term in the UK as well. Based on publicly available information, this joint development gives access to roughly 20 million m² per year of upholstery fabrics in the UK alone and an estimated market potential of around US$ 500 million.
FRX Polymers, Glentham, Nofia = registered trademarks