News & Insights | Textile Technology

FRX Innovations & Sichuan EM Technology Co.Ltd Jointly Develop Flame Retardant Upholstery Fabrics

Published: October 6, 2022

BOSTON, Mass., October 4, 2022 – FRX Innovations Inc., a leader in eco-friendly flame-retardant (“FR”) solutions, has announced a collaboration with Sichuan EM Technology Co., Ltd (“Sichuan”), to introduce the world’s first halogen-free inherent flame-retardant upholstery fabric solution capable of meeting the stringent British Fire Standard BS 5852; part 1 for furniture, while providing outstanding touch and feel, all in a solution that is environmentally sustainable and permanent.  The introduction of this new fabric technology, Glentham® anti-dripping FR Polyester fiber and yarn solution, comes on the heels of new regulations banning the content of Persistent Organic Pollutants like halogenated flame retardants in recycled furniture sold in the UK.

According to the regulations in the United Kingdom, upholstered furniture needs to be fire retardant to ignition by a cigarette and by a small flame like a match, and must meet British Standard BS 5852; part1, a very stringent fire test. Today, most upholstery fabrics are treated with halogen contained flame retardant chemicals to meet this standard.  While these solutions do reduce the risk of fire, toxicity concerns due to the flame-retardant system remain.  Moreover, as of January 1, 2023, persistent organic pollutants like halogenated flame retardants will be required to be disposed of like chemical waste which means that furniture treated with these persistent organic chemicals will need to be incinerated and will no longer be allowed to be land filled.

Sichuan has launched a series of fabrics, based on Nofia® Polyphosphonate halogen-free flame retardants, which meet the British Standard while at the same time offer permanence of FR performance after numerous wash cycles. Sichuan’s Glentham® anti-dripping FR Polyester fiber and yarn solution, based on modified polyester fibers with a high Phosphorous content (22,000 ppm), show exceptionally high resistance against ignition in both surface and edge ignition. At the same time, they provide outstanding textile properties such as hand and feel, breathability and abrasion resistance. Nofia Flame Retardants from FRX is the only halogen-free FR technology capable of such high loading in Polyester fabrics.  Other halogen-free technologies are limited to about 6500ppm of phosphorus and thus could not meet the UK’s stringent fire safety standards.

The fabrics come in blends with wool, cotton or viscose and have the natural feel of the organic fibers, the strength of the polyester and breathability needed for cozy and comfortable seating. With comfort, safety, and sustainability these fabrics will set a new performance bar not previously possible.

This development opens new opportunities for flame retardant fabrics without the use of halogenated flame retardants which are already banned in the EU and will also come under regulatory pressure within the short term in the UK as well.  Based on publicly available information, this joint development gives access to roughly 20 million square meters per year (400 g per square meter) of upholstery fabrics in the UK alone and an estimated market potential of around $500 million.

“The UK government’s strict Furniture Fire Safety regulations coupled with new regulations limiting disposal of furniture treated with persistent organic pollutants has enabled new innovative materials to come onto the market, which provides the market with a no compromise fabric that is both fire safe and human health safe,” said Marc Lebel, CEO of FRX. “This development could not have been possible if not for our Nofia Flame Retardant technology.  Consumers can enjoy the comfort and safety of the modern furniture solutions without compromise.”

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