In depth: US patent approval opens up the market for Swedish innovative firm

Paxymer AB now has its patent approved in the United States. ”This opens up the market in a whole different way” says Amit Paul MD of Paxymer. The green flame retardant technology is developed to fulfill the criteria of risk assessments and has taken dripping, flame spread and smoke generation into account.  It is designed for combination with conventional halogen free technologies such as minerals and intumescent systems in order to lower dosage and boost performance of materials.

2012 Swedish chemical engineer award recipient Dr Swaraj Paul invented the technology after a close collaboration with the Swedish civil contingencies agency. The system was designed particularly after their demands based in the risk assessment methodology – decreasing smoke amount and toxicity, reducing dripping and heat release rate that contributes to flame spread were the main prioritization.

“The way that Dr Paul designed this system was ahead of its time” says Amit Paul, Managing director of the company “The discussion that has been going on now regarding flame retardants in homes and their actual contribution to fire safety was exactly what he addressed in designing the system. Standards have up until now been designed to be met by certain materials not the other way around, this is only just changing in Europe.”

The big argument regarding flame retardants in upholstered furniture – addressed in HBO documentary “Toxic hot seat” – has gained lots of public interest in the States. The European Commission has addressed the issues in the new, Europe-wide harmonization of fire classifications within building (CPR) and railway industries.

“The debate is polarized. An unprotected plastic material will cause severe consequences, a material protected with halogens as well, that does not mean that all flame retardants are useless.” says Dr Paul “Flame retarding plastics is a challenge but if the focus was fire safety first the market would look different. The Paxymer® technology improves fire performance of the materials and actually reduce their contribution to any fire scenario.” 

The technology uses functional polymers to propagate cross-linking of the carrying polymer. The technology works synergistically with both phosphorous chemistry and metal hydrates. Key benefits are flexibility, ease of use in the process and excellent mechanical properties. It is completely free from any persistent, endocrine disrupting or carcinogenic chemicals. The system is currently on the market for polyolefin’s but Paxymer AB has the ambition to develop the technology also for other plastics. 

“Studies show that the time until life threatening conditions occur in a home fire has decreased from 15 minutes in the 50’s to a mere 2-3 minutes in the 90’s [Authors note: Study by Swedish civil contingencies agency]. More alternatives that address the real issue – fire safety with low toxicity and retained mechanical functionality is essential. Paxymer® has a unique technology with many benefits. The patent proves the novelty of our approach. The potential for a product like this is vast.”