Where There’s Fire, Brominated Flame Retardants Are Up to the Task

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Stop and look around you. Chances are that at least one of the things you see that is made from thermosets and thermoplastics is treated with a brominated flame retardant (BFR). This includes ordinary items like electronic equipment, appliances, extension cords and upholstery.

Brominated flame retardants are added to product compounds or used as a surface coating to bolster resistance to fire. Because BFRs can significantly reduce or even prevent damage should a fire occur, they help mitigate the risk of fires igniting or spreading.

What does flame retardant mean?

Though the terms flame resistant and flame retardant are often used interchangeably, they are distinct. Flame resistance is an inherent property of a material that allows it to resist burning, while flame retardants are chemicals applied to materials to provide that flame resistance.

For instance, certain clothing is flame resistant because it is made from materials like coated nylon, wool or leather that naturally resist combustion. These materials, when exposed to fire, are unlikely to continue burning and might even help to smother the flames.

On the other hand, flame-retardant clothing can be made of any fabric, but that fabric is treated with a chemical that can prevent or slow the ignition of a fire. When activated by heat or direct flame, flame retardants help suppress the fire and form a protective barrier against flames. This not only helps to prevent the fire from spreading but also provides crucial time for individuals to escape during an emergency.

The brominated flame retardants market

While there are hundreds of different flame retardants on the market, they are grouped based on their properties and chemical structures. Brominated flame retardants stand out as a leading group within the halogenated category. BFRs are widely available in different forms such as liquids, powders, and pellets, favored for their affordability, structural strength and effectiveness.

The market for BFRs is steadily increasing as industries in every sector prioritize safety.  According to Reports and Data, the brominated flame retardant market size was $1.63 billion in 2018 and is forecasted to reach $2.71 billion by 2027.

Brominated flame retardants are highly effective in reducing the flammability of products made from plastics and textiles. This has led to an increase in their use by various industries, particularly those producing printed circuit boards, polymer foams and electrical cables. The demand for electronics, electrical systems and flame insulation coatings will drive market demand.

Why are brominated flame retardants so effective?

Brominated flame retardants are highly effective because they are a vapor phase inhibitor. This means they disrupt a fire’s combustion process at the gas phase. They neutralize hydrogen (H) and hydroxide (OH) radicals within the flame, which are crucial to sustaining the fire’s growth. This action effectively halts the chain reaction that leads to combustion.
Additionally, when exposed to heat, brominated flame retardants release bromine atoms, preventing materials from reaching their ignition temperature. This slows or stops the spread of fire.

BFRs are considered the most effective compared to other kinds, thanks to their superior performance in inhibiting flames and their stability under thermal and UV exposure. They require lower application levels than other flame retardants, leading to cost savings and less deterioration of physical properties.

In some cases, synergists are required to optimize the flamebretardant loading. A common example is the combination of bromine with antimony trioxide (Sb2O3). This pairing results in a highly efficient flame retardant system that is widely used in many applications.


While electronic and electrical equipment represent more than 50% of BFR applications, they are used in various markets including:

Consumer Appliances

  • Ovens
  • Dishwashers
  • Toasters
  • Refrigerators


  • Computers
  • Tablets
  • Printed circuit boards
  • Enclosures


  • Electronic components
  • Wiring and cables
  • Adhesives
  • Body parts

Building Materials

  • Insulation
  • Electrical components
  • Paints
  • Floor gratings

Using these flame retardants in household and office items can potentially save lives. By extinguishing or inhibiting the spread of fire, they give people more time to evacuate the building and get to safety.

Benefits of BFRs

More than 75 different brominated flame retardants exist on the market, some of the most popular carried by HM Royal.  In addition to improving the performance of products, BFRs greatly reduce environmental emissions. This is because molecules do not break down and generate potentially harmful by-products.

Other beneficial properties of BFRs include:

  • Superior flame retardant efficiency
  • No bioaccumulation in fish, animals or plants
  • Thermal stability for use in a wide range of polymers including engineering thermoplastics
  • Nonhazardous and non-toxic: does not irritate skin and does not form brominated dibenzodioxins or dibenzofurans; nontoxic profile is compliant with ROHS.
  • UV stability: does not degrade when exposed to natural sunlight.
  • Recyclability: contributes to the circular economy; maintains properties including flame retardancy through multiple iterations of recycling.

Bromine flame retardants are a cost-effective option for two reasons:

  • They are available for almost every type of polymer system and have been optimized for every polymer that requires a flame retardant.
  • They suffer less deterioration of physical properties, meaning less use and replacement for lower costs.

Available as a powder, granule, pellet or liquid depending on the grade, bromine flame retardants are used in a broad range of applications such as thermoplastics, foams, thermosets, textiles, coatings and adhesives.

Local bromine sources prove more reliable

Sourcing bromine locally is becoming increasingly attractive due to the complications associated with international procurement, such as logistical challenges, fluctuating costs and strict regulations. For instance, in China, the production of bromine has declined because of the shuttering and downsizing of factories, a move driven by the government’s efforts to mitigate air pollution.

For American manufacturers that incorporate bromine-based flame retardants into their production lines, securing a steady and cost-effective bromine supply is critical. They should rely on domestic suppliers and distributors to ensure they have access to the bromine compounds they require for their products.

H.M. Royal supplies several brands of brominated flame retardants to address the requirements of numerous industries for a variety of applications. For more information, contact our material experts.

Blog Archives

You may be also interested in