FRX Polymers Inc. is meeting market demand in a tight global market for flame retardants.
In a recent phone interview, FRX CEO Marc Lebel said that supplies of yellow phosphorus needed to make many flame retardants used in plastics have tightened as a result of energy consumption limits in Yunnan, China, where much of the global yellow phosphorus is sourced.
As a result, global plastics and chemicals firm DuPont Co. in September declared force majeure on non-halogenated flame retardants. That same month, Clariant AG declared force majeure on phosphorus chemicals. Both firms cited lower yellow phosphorus production in Yunnan as the reason for their actions.
Lebel said that Chelmsford, Mass.-based FRX and its production site in Antwerp, Belgium, haven't been affected by the yellow phosphorus shortage, because the firm sources raw materials from a different region.
"We have as much as we need, and if increased demand comes our way, we can meet it," he added. "We think this [shortage] will continue for a while, maybe into early next year."
FRX plans to add capacity in Antwerp next year to meet increased demand for its 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.
FRX has had "a good sales year" in 2021, according to Lebel, even as some of its customers have faced challenges in sourcing resins needed to make their products.
In 2020, FRX worked with the Chinese American Association of Lexington, Mass., to purchase almost 100,000 disposable masks for nursing homes and front-line medical organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.