Australian-listed speciality chemicals develop- ment company Alexium International has made significant inroads into the resins, films and polymers industry, owing to its newly commercialised environment-friendly flame-retardant (FR) treatment Alexiflam, which is well suited to the mining industry.
Alexium CEO Nicholas Clark states that one of the product’s largest applications in the mining sector is potting compounds – polymer blends used to protect the circuit board wiring in machinery against fire.
Potting compounds are used to coat circuit boards and the wiring inside and outside the machinery. This mitigates any risk of unplanned downtime and reduces the need to replace a whole machine when only the circuit board needs replacing.
Alexium, which is focused on developing chemical solutions for the military and commercial sectors, started selling Alexiflam for polyester, cotton, polycotton and nylon-cotton (NyCo) blends earlier this year, following the start of commercial production at the end of last year.
Besides coatings, Alexiflam can be used in fabrics and, therefore, in apparel worn in different mining environments. For example, it can be worn by heavy diesel mechanics, welders and explosion technicians. Clark says it can be used in any mining condition where there is extreme heat and flames.
The company is also progressing well with the commercialisation of its newest technology, Alexiflam NF, a durable FR solution for cotton- and wool-rich blends.
Work is under way on exclusivity and licensing agreements with industry partners for Alexiflam NF, currently used for automotive seating, Clark tells Mining Weekly.
“Alexium is working with chemi- cals manufacturers and fibre manufacturers towards quickly building significant market share.”
He points out that, in the FR industry, Alexium is the only company that is 100% focused on FR chemistries. Virtually every other player in the FR chemistry market, Clark adds, sells a range of chemis- tries in which FR chemistries comprise only 1%, therefore, making technical support of these chemistries a low priority.
Alexium currently sells a series of FR chemistries, such as Alexiflam-SYN for 100% polyester, 100% acrylic, 100% nylon and synthetic-rich blends, as well as its ecofriendly FR chemistries to meet specific needs.
“Our environment-friendly polymers are the latest technological advancement in the industry,” says Clark, noting that market interest is exceptionally large, with a combined $7.5-billion market forecast by the end of this year for FR chemistries.
He maintains that, once industry players become aware of what Alexium’s products are capable of, it will become easier for customers to introduce the products into their production line.
“Once they see the practicality and principles behind the chemistries, which are environment friendly, it’s actually quite an easy sell,” he states.
As Alexium’s customer base grows and its product line expands, its sales approach will evolve. Clark explains that efforts are under way to enhance the company’s sales culture, while servicing and supporting current customers effectively. Alexium’s sales pipeline has increased threefold since January, with a large number of its customers in the final stage of the sales cycle.
Large-scale trials remain a primary focus of the company, with several successful trials for NyCo – the FR solution for NyCo blends primarily used in military uniforms – completed in June. Trials are scheduled for Alexium’s automotive interior fabrics coating and the Alexiflam TR, a semi-durable cotton treatment with FR, water-repellent and antimicrobial properties.
Meanwhile, to meet growing customer demand, the company’s product development has scheduled several commercial-scale runs of phase-change material solution Alexicool for toll manufacturing across the US and Europe.
Applications for Alexicool, which provides fabrics with a cool feel to the touch, have been increasing, as manufacturers aim to expand its use beyond bedding, linen and apparel.
Nontextile applications are also being evaluated and Alexicool has recently passed critical requirements for use in the apparel market. Alexium is working with a major brand to launch the product in the second half of this year.
“We continue to practice companywide quality improvements in all aspects of our operations and we are cementing critical partnerships with distributors and clients worldwide,” concludes Clark.