05/2020, Current R&D projects

Flame retardant and low migrations are primary bio-based plasticizers for soft PVC

  • funding program: IGF – Industrielle Gemeinschaftsforschung
  • term: 01.05.2020 – 30.04.2022
  • project partner:
    • Forschungsinstitut für Leder und Kunststoffbahnen gGmbH (FILK)

Initial position:

Polyvinyl chloride (PCV) is the best-selling thermoplastic polymer after polyethylene and polypropylene, in Germany alone more than 1.8 million tons were sold in 2017. 70% of this is used in the construction sector, e.g. as window profiles, roofing membranes and floor coverings. About 30 percent of the PVC produced is processed into soft PVC with the help of plasticizers. The PVC has versatile application possibilities in a continuously growing market. Therefore, in order to conserve fossil resources, it is necessary to find an alternative raw material sources for the production of PVC and the manufacture of PVC products.

The most commonly used plasticizers are still petro chemically obtained esters of phthalic acid. There is a public debate, sometimes emotional, about the harmful effects of some phthalates on humans and the environment. The critical assessment of phthalates and the finite nature of fossil resources have encouraged the development of “green” and sustainably producible plasticizers. The production of bio-based plasticizers based on citrates, sugars or vegetable oils is increasing, but is mainly used in niche areas. Vegetable oil-based plasticizers show very good plasticizing effects, but also a high tendency to migrate and increased VOC values. PVC materials, which have to meet special requirements of the burning behavior, are added with various flame-retardants. One variant is certain phosphoric acid Esters (e.g. TEHP, TKP), which also acts as plasticizers. However, they do also have disadvantages such as a high migration tendency and increased fogging values.


The aim of the research project is the development and application of bio-based plasticizers for PVC with a flame retardant effect and reduced migration tendency. To produce the desired multifunctional plasticizers, unsaturated fatty acid esters, which are obtained from sustainably produced vegetable oils, are chemically modified with functional groups. This is done by a beneficial combination of phosphate and epoxy groups in order to integrate flame-retardant and plasticizing properties into one molecule. A low tendency to migrate should be achieved by suitable alkyl groups in all ester groups. The characterization and evaluation of the synthesized substances is carried out with regard to their performance and application potential for textiles, plastic sheets and films coated with soft PVC.


In process



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