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Researchers make flame retardants environmentally friendly

Hotel mattresses and plane seats are often coated with toxic flame retardants. Now, Empa chemists have developed a synthesis method for an environmentally friendly flame retardant and production is set to begin.

 flame retardants
Image Credit: Empa

Flame-retardant upholstery is mandatory for areas where many people gather, meaning it is used in hotel mattresses, plane and train seats, and often house facades and fridges.

However, the retardants currently used can emit toxic gases during a fire, explained the Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) in a statement.   

To solve this problem, chemists at Empa’s St.Gallen site developed an ecological and environmentally friendly synthesis method for non-toxic flame retardants.

The method, which was patented in June, produces flame retardants that are as effective as their predecessors, according to Empa.    

Two of Empa’s industrial partners are now launching the innovation on the market. Metadynea Austria GmbH will manufacture the material, which the global FoamPartner Group will use to produce flame-retardant polyurethane (PU) foams for upholstery and mattresses if there is sufficient demand. 

The partners must wait a little longer until the products can go on sale: the flame retardant is currently being certified in accordance with the European chemical regulation REACH.

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