Dow converts Styrofoam plants in Japan

Dow Building Solutions, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical has successfully completed the conversion of its three Styrofoam extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam plants in Japan to the new polymeric flame retardant technology (PolyFR). Dow Kakoh, a joint venture of Dow Building Solutions, has started producing Styrofoam containing the new PolyFR.

“The new product has been extensively tested and has proven to maintain its flame retardant performance while having a more sustainable profile,” said Takahiro Sugiyama, President of Dow Kakoh. “We have made the new PolyFR containing product available to customers in commercial quantities in order for the construction industry to meet the Japanese regulations banning the use of the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) as of May 2014.”

Dow Building Solutions will convert all of its Styrofoam XPS foam plants in North America, Europe, Middle East, and Japan to the new PolyFR technology. Because of the vast number of plants, this is a phased process that started in Japan in 2013 and will be followed by the conversion of plants in Europe and North America.

“This allows for a controlled conversion process that meets our quality requirements in every region and at the same time ensures product availability meeting global regulatory demands,” said Inken Beulich, research & development director for Dow Building Solutions Europe and project leader for the new PolyFR.

In September 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) released a draft report on alternatives for the flame retardant HBCD. The agency presented the findings in the report to help manufacturers identify safer alternatives to the use of HBCD in polystyrene building insulation. In the report, the EPA states that “the butadiene styrene brominated copolymer [new PolyFR, ed.] is anticipated to be safer than HBCD.”

Dow introduced the invention and development of the PolyFR, a stable, high molecular weight, non-PBT (persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic) substance in 2011. This more sustainable additive provides a fire safety solution for XPS and EPS foams, enabling these thermal insulation materials to continue to meet the increasing demands of global energy efficiency regulations and sustainable building design.

Dow has made the PolyFR technology available to the global extruded polystyrene (XPS) and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation industry through three manufacturing and marketing licensees. The international licensees, Chemtura (Emerald Innovation 3000), ICL (FR-122P) and Albemarle (GreenCrest), have built commercial production capacity for the new polymeric flame retardant amounting to more than 14,000 tonnes at the end of 2013 which will be expanded to more than 25,000 tonnes by the end of 2014.


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