Eco-friendly flame retardant to be produced as part of Albemarle, Israeli firm joint venture

Albemarle Corp., a Baton Rouge specialty chemicals maker, and ICL, an Israeli manufacturer, have formed a joint venture to produce polymeric flame retardants that will replace hexabromocyclododecane, now found worldwide in the environment, animals and people.

The joint venture and its partners will own and operate an existing 2,640-ton Netherlands plant and an 11,000-ton plant in Israel, which is scheduled to begin operating within the next three months. Both plants are at ICL sites.

Hexabromocyclododecane, also known as HBCD, is found worldwide in the environment and wildlife, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. HBCD is found in human breast milk, body fat and blood. It accumulates in animals and people and has a “toxic characteristic,” and there is concern about its effect on people’s health based on animal tests that indicate potential reproductive, developmental and neurological effects.

HBCD has been the most commonly used type of flame retardant. In 2011, the European Union announced it would ban HBCD in 2015. Other countries have also banned the product, which is used in polystyrene foam boards used in construction.

The Albemarle-ICL joint venture expects its plants will meet the demand for growth in the EU and the rest of the world after HBCD is phased out.

Albemarle began commercial production of its polymeric product in April at the Netherlands plant. Albemarle said its GreenCrest product can also be used to make the polystyrene foam board.