Flame Retardants Conference FR 2006

The Flame Retardants Conference FR 2006 took place in London, UK, on 14th and 15th February 2006 and was attended by over 200 people.

The conference started with a session on flame retardants and environmental aspects including papers on the sustainability of flame retardants (Chemtura, UK), an update on REACH (UK Department for Environment), on the feasibility of halogen free textile backcoating formulations (University of Bolton, UK), the environmental profile of new phosphorous-based flame retardants (Umsicht and Clariant, Germany), and a paper on the WEEE recovery at an integrated metals smelter (EFRA/Umicore). The papers gave a good overview on the latest developments in this field and showed that the various flame retardants systems presented do not basically harm the environment.

A discussion forum focussing on the toxicity and acidity of fire gases from wire and cable followed with papers given in the context of the proposed acidity criterion for cables used as construction products. Papers dealing with the toxicity measurement of gases from cables (LSF, Italy), the correlation between fire safety, smoke toxicity and acidity (GBH, USA), smoke toxicity from FR plastics combustion products (INERIS, France), the acidity criterion for cables under the CPD (Fire Protection Service, Germany), and halogen free polyethylene cables behaviour (Chalmers Univ., Sweden) were given. In the discussion, it came out that acidity cannot be equated to the toxicity of fire effluents from cables.

In the following session, papers covering some basics regarding the ignition of solids, reaction-to-fire testing in the world, thermal analysis of flammability, and developments in the Japanese fire safety regulations in different fields were presented. They gave a good view on past, current and future research work on ignition, flammability, reaction-to-fire testing, and related regulations. 

Session 4 covered different flame retardant systems and their mechanisms including nanocomposites for cable applications, polymeric flame retardants, synergists based on zinc borate, the mechanisms of phosphorous flame retardants, and specific phosphorous flame retardants (DOPO) in polyamides. The two latter presentations showed interesting mechanistical aspects and new applications in polymers.

A short commercial section followed with presentations on analytical test protocols for the RoHS directive, a new microcalorimetry measuring device, halogen free UL 94 V1 products for TV housings, and intumescent flame retardant systems.

In the following session, papers on modelling fire scenarios, regulations and standardisation for US and French residential furnishings, as well as the benefits of counter-measures in the UK and Europe to increase fire safety were presented. They showed that worldwide the regulations become more severe and also that using flame retardants and smoke detectors will help to reduce the number of fire victims and losses.

The final session covered EU fire safety requirements and testing of construction products, particularly sandwich panels, and the use of the Single Burning Item (SBI) test. The papers showed that there are basically solutions for testing construction products and the use of the SBI test, but that there are still many problems to be solved.

The conference gave an excellent picture of the status of fire safety regulations, testing, and the use of flame retardants and plastics. The conference programme is available at: http://www.intercomm.dial.pipex.com/html/events/fr2006z.htm