FRX Polymers and global specialty chemicals maker Lanxess AG are reviewing a deal under which Lanxess would make and sell FRX's Nofia-brand flame retardants.
In a Sept. 1 phone interview with Plastics News, FRX CEO Marc Lebel said that FRX and Lanxess should be able to decide on their partnership in early 2024.
"We've been talking with [Lanxess] for a long time," he said. "They have a strong phosphorus supply chain and our products are based on phosphorus."
"We have a lot of great opportunities, both market driven and litigation driven," Lebel added. "Because demand is growing, it's good to have the possibility of a [Lanxess] production asset in the United Kingdom."
Lanxess operates six U.K. production sites. Lebel also said that Lanxess has "a strong and capable technical marketing team."
Textiles have been FRX's best performing end market in 2023, according to Lebel. He said the firm is working on new programs in electronics housings and in high voltage areas on electric vehicles.
"We're focused on areas where we can bring something other than flame retardancy," Lebel added. "You have to be able to meet specs."
In a news release, officials with FRX in Chelmsford, Mass., said that the two firms have signed a memorandum of understanding covering:
• The evaluation of contract manufacturing by Lanxess of a family of Nofia materials.
• Potential production by Lanxess of an FRX patented raw material needed to make Nofia materials.
• Potential marketing by Lanxess of Nofia materials in specific sectors and/or geographies.
Karsten Job, polymer additives managing director for Lanxess, said the Nofia range "fits perfectly with Lanxess' existing phosphorus flame retardant portfolio and long-term strategy of sustainable flame-retardant solutions."
"We believe that FRX's Nofia technology will capture important market share in this market," he added.
Lebel said the relationship is a direct consequence of recently passed legislation, which is pulling Nofia products into large new application areas.
"Lanxess operates one of the world's premiere flame retardant additives businesses and we believe that a strategic partnership with Lanxess can be pivotal to capturing the considerable growth opportunities ahead for us both," he said.
Lebel also said that the potential partnership "fits well with FRX's mission to be a leader in the environmentally sustainable revolution now driving the flame-retardant industry."
Lanxess employs more than 13,000 worldwide and posted sales of $8.8 billion in 2022. Its product mix includes chemical intermediates, additives and consumer protection products.
FRX operates a production site in Antwerp, Belgium. Officials previously said that bans on brominated flame retardants in New York state and in the European Union region will create sales opportunities for FRX's Nofia-brand polymeric flame retardants, which are used with polycarbonate, polyurethane and other plastics.
Nofia materials are phosphorus-based and halogen-free. Applications for Nofia include textiles, automotive and electronics.
In May 2022, FRX went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange through a reverse takeover of a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The firm posted sales of $1.5 million in the second quarter of 2023. That amount was more than double its first-quarter sales total.
Officials said in an earnings release that FRX received 17 new customer technical approvals in 2022 and is working with 41 new sales projects. "These programs are expected to lead to adoption and sales growth in 2023 and beyond," Lebel said.