In the event of fire, additives can provide the decisive seconds for rescue. “Flame retardants delay the ignition of flammable materials such as plastics, textiles or wood,” explains Oliver Kutsch, CEO of Ceresana. “They slow down the spread of fire.” For the sixth time, Ceresana analyzed the global market for brominated and chlorinated flame retardants as well as for ATH, organophosphates, ATO, and other types. About 2.26 million tonnes of flame retardants were processed worldwide in 2018.
Construction Sector and Electrical Industry Are the Largest Sales Markets
The construction industry is the most important application area of flame retardants: About 30% of global demand originate in this segment. Flame retardants are often used for insulation foams. In 2017, the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower in London has shown how important fire protection is. Electrics and electronics is the second largest application area, accounting for a global demand of 534,000 tonnes of flame retardants. Further applications are cables and products used in the transportation industry. Until 2026, researchers at Ceresana expect demand for flame retardants in the segment transportation to experience the strongest percentage growth: approx. 2.8% per year. However, construction materials will continue to be the largest application area in the upcoming eight years.
Regional Differences in Regard to Flame Retardant Types
Aluminum trihydroxide (ATH) is currently and by far the most frequently sold flame retardant worldwide accounting for about 38%. Brominated compounds, used in electronic and electrical products as well as foams, are in second place. Brominated flame retardants are very effective but also controversial for environmental and health reasons. Due to legal provisions, there are significant regional differences: In Western Europe and North America, brominated compounds had market shares of only 5.5% and 11%, respectively, while accounting for 29% in Asia. In total, the highest amount of flame retardants is used in Asia-Pacific: In 2018, this world region accounted for about 44% of all sales.