Vendor Newsmaker Q&A: Ray Dawson

Jan. 1, 2020
Ray Dawson is Global Director, Product Advocacy, for the Albemarle Corporation.
Ray Dawson is Global Director, Product Advocacy, for the Albemarle Corporation.

Your company has developed an environmentally safe flame retardant chemical called Green Armor, devised for car interiors and plastic. Explain how this came about?

Fire safety is very important for the automotive sector. Increasingly, as we see the greater drive for fuel economy, we are seeing the increased use of plastics. And with the increased use of plastics, these materials tend to be flammable. Our product includes chemical additives that inhibit flames from developing, giving drivers time to get out of the car. The best flame retardant is known as deca (a chemical known to be toxic). We’ve carried out a great deal of testing on the product. The market has been shrinking, and in order for us to maintain the market, we developed Green Armor -- in essence, this is a material that has been designed so that the molecular size of the product is such that it cannot be absorbed by living organisms. If you analyze animals or creatures of the wild, you can detect low levels of chemicals. Green armor is designed to address that question. It fundamentally will not be absorbed. We believe this product is a significant step forward.

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How is this product safer than deca?
It’s polymeric, which means it’s a very large molecule with zero volatility. It’s basically a solid material that’s melted or dissolved as it’s being processed into a flame retardant. It’s well incorporated into the plastic or latex coating and not something that’s going to leach out or evaporate into the atmosphere.

What was the biggest obstacle to developing Green Armor?
We have to be mindful not to endanger the environment and human health. From more of an engineering perspective, when you incorporate materials into a resin, you want to retain the properties. The major technical problem (aside from fire safety) is when you reach that level, you have to make sure you maintain the physical properties of the (material).

What other industries will Green Armor apply to?
Will find use in the electronics industry. I would envision also finding applications in computers, television, furniture -- make sure the fabric won’t burn too quickly. It would find use in those applications. Also the aircraft industry.

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