“European Meeting on Fire Retardant Polymeric Materials" in Budapest - FRPM21 – real people meeting again live to discuss science

The European Meeting on Fire Retardant Polymeric Materials - FRPM21 - was held as a hybrid event this year in Budapest, Hungary, from 29 August to 1 September, as it is every three years, despite the corona pandemic.

This meeting again attracted well-known flame retardants researchers and industry representatives from all over the world. 125 people were present on site and 30 additional participated online. The experts came from 18 countries such as Hungary, Germany, USA, Norway, China and many more, which highlights the importance of flame retardancy and the international exchange of new ideas and technologies.

In a total of 11 sessions spread over the three days, a wide variety of topics on the subject of flame retardants were discussed. Important topics were trends in flame retardancy, innovative chemistry, new compounds and solutions, as well as flame retardancy mechanism and new testing and characterization possibilities. The solutions and approaches presented are relevant for a wide range of applications such as textiles, transportation, building and construction (B&C) and electric and electronic (E&E) applications, thus underlining the importance for our industry and for end-users.

After the welcome speech of György Marosi and Andrea Toldy, Budapest University, Richard Hull from University of Central Lancashire, UK, explained besides the negative effect of fire especially the general threat of toxic smoke that is formed in the case of fire, and presented solutions on how to reduce it. Due to their chemical composition certain non-halogenated flame retardants have shown a good performance in this respect compared to halogenated solutions.

This event again demonstrated that in general, the development of new and more sustainable flame retardants and end-products that show no threat to health and environment, is a key focus for research and industry.

Sabyasachi Gaan from EMPA, Switzerland, highlighted the importance of new molecules that will not leach during the use phase from consumer products. He presented new flame retardant structures, and also emphasized the need of testing the toxicological profile of new molecules already in the initial stages of product development.

With focus on new flame retardant chemistries Rudolf Pfaendner from Fraunhofer LBF, Germany, highlighted the flame retardant class of radical generators, that are highly effective especially in thin-film application and also explained their limitations.

Another challenge for all participants in the value chain is to find flame retardant combination that work most effective in a specific polymer system. Here Bernhard Schartel from BAM, Germany, highlighted that many flame retardant systems are based on multicomponent flame retardant combinations, that can in the best case highly increase the performance of the whole system. It is particularly the case if, in contrast to the superposition, synergistic effects of the various flame retardant components are present. Therefore, the understanding of the interactions of different components with each other during decomposition of the polymer system in the case of fire are of great importance.

Also with focus on synergistic combinations Mandred Döring from Schill+Seilacher, Germany, gave an overview on combinations of inorganic and organophosphorus flame retardants. Especially in UP and EP resin systems such combinations have shown a good performance.

The presentations from Jürgen Troitzsch from FEPS, Switzerland, and Christian Battenberg from Clariant, Germany, focused more on big megatrends like 5G and e-mobility. Jürgen Troitzsch highlighted the challenge that many new devices will be used in the coming years, e.g. with a focus on internet Internet of Things (IoT), that require flame protection. Christian Battenberg also referred to the new challenges for flame retardants that new technologies such as e-mobility and 5G will bring.  He explained that organic phosphinates and their synergistic mixtures have emerged as a particularly good solution for these applications, as they can provide the required performance in important polymer classes.

On the second day the gala dinner in association with pinfa was held in the National Gallery.  After the participants were welcomed with snacks and drinks and had a look at the exhibition together, the evening was opened by their hosts György Marosi and Andrea Toldy. Afterwards, Christian Battenberg gave a short welcome speech on behalf of pinfa, in which he reiterated the high danger of fires for people and society and the damage that large fires have already caused in the past. In addition, he confirmed again the need for more sustainable flame retardants that is also highlighted by the European Green Deal and the new EU Chemicals Strategy to make the EU a leader in chemicals sustainability worldwide. pinfa is open to engage with researchers to discuss R&D directions and needs or to collaborate in new projects.

Overall, this hybrid event provided a good overview of new developments, needs and trends in flame retardant development. It again served as a perfect platform for the necessary discussion and exchange between different stakeholders from different parts of the value chain.

Photos by Hliva Viktor