Despite being used in a broad range of commercial items, halogenated flame-retardant (HFR) additives have been found to negatively impact health and the environment. Eliminating these additives from the composition of such products is essential, so much so that their use and recyclability has been explicitly addressed by several EU directives. The EU-funded PHOENIX project found halogen-free, low-smoke-generating and eco-friendly solutions to substitute the HFR additives used in fabricating FR thermoplastic and thermoset materials. Specifically, the PHOENIX team developed new halogen-free FR nanostructured materials to replace hazardous chemicals. They are based on nanolayered structures that were produced using innovative green chemical methods and modified lignins for thermoplastic and thermoset applications. Project partners introduced innovative processing means to optimise nanocomposite properties. These are compounding techniques such as the Nanodirekt process, and ultrasound mixing systems to improve nanoparticle dispersion during extrusion and injection moulding. The developed procedures provide solutions to the FR demands of EU industry in finding a true cost-efficient and sustainable alternative to existing environmentally harmful HFR additives. PHOENIX scientists also simulated and modelled the compounding process to produce optimal nanocomposites. This enabled them to avoid aggregates and achieve the best dispersion of nanoparticles in the polymer matrix. The project’s sustainable materials and compounds will deliver an improvement in mechanical properties and processability. They come at a competitive cost compared to their traditional alternatives, having the lowest content of halogen-free FR, 3.1 % for thermoset resins. The electrical and electronics sector, the largest market for FR in plastics globally, stands to benefit most. Companies are better positioned to manufacture parts for consumers demanding high-performance, halogen-free FR materials. The transport, building and construction, and upholstered furniture and textiles sectors will also gain from the developed compounds.
Flame-retardant, halogenated additives, thermoset, thermoplastic, PHOENIX, halogen-free