Albemarle, ICL to form new venture on polymeric flame retardants

Albemarle and ICL have entered into an agreement to establish a manufacturing joint venture for the production of ICL's FR-122P polymeric flame retardant and Albemarle's GreenCrest polymeric flame retardant, the companies announced on Friday.

These flame retardants are designed to replace hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). HBCD has been the leading flame retardant used in expanded (EPS) and extruded (XPS) polystyrene foam applications, but is being phased out in the European Union (EU), Japan and other countries. 

The joint venture and its partners will own and operate a 2,400-tpy Netherlands plant, which is currently operating, and a 10,000-tpy Israel plant, which is scheduled to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Both plants are located at ICL sites, as previously announced by ICL. The joint venture will enable additional capacity to be brought to the market to meet the growth needed for the EU and the rest of the world following the phase out of HBCD from these markets.  

The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in 2015. 

"The joint venture will allow Albemarle to continue providing its GreenCrest branded product to customers while joining forces with a proven manufacturing partner in ICL," said Troy De Soto, Albemarle's vice president for fire safety solutions.

"The combined experience and know-how related to bromine and bromine derivatives of Albemarle and ICL will ensure a reliable, high quality alternative offering to HBCD in the EPS/XPS segment," he added. "In addition, Albemarle brings its financial backing and GreenCrest product manufacturing experience to the venture." 

ICL's investment in its polymeric flame retardant production capacities followed extensive testing and evaluation processes conducted by potential customers during the past several years. ICL began to commercially produce and market its FR-122P polymeric flame retardant product in 2013.

Meanwhile, Albemarle began commercial qualifications of its GreenCrest sustainable polymeric product in 2013 and started commercial supply in April 2014 from the Netherlands plant. Positive customer feedback has confirmed that the GreenCrest product is suitable for commercial uses in EPS and XPS applications, according to company officials.

Albemarle and ICL say they will continue to provide independent marketing, sales and technical service to their customers in Europe and around the world to ensure a smooth transition as EPS and XPS producers shift from HBCD to the polymeric flame retardant before the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) sunset date for HBCD in August 2015. 

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