Alexium International Group (ASX: AJX) has opened up a potential new commercial avenue for its Reactive Surface Technology (NYSE:RST) treatments with the recent demonstration of the capability to add functional properties to high value heat sensitive fibres.
Proactive Investors spoke to Gavin Rezos, chairman, on the potential market opportunities available for the major new development.
Rezos said there is a "significant" new window for Alexium in fire retardance alone, as these polyolefins have many applications but suffer from not being able to have added functionality due to heat sensitivity.
"We see applications in building, construction, aircraft industry, medial industry and others."
Alexium yesterday revealed it had made a major advancement in the development of its Reactive Surface Technology (RST) treatments, demonstrating the capability to add antimicrobials, adhesion promoters, and flame retardants to temperature sensitive fibres such as high-performance polyolefins.
Until now, functionalising the inert surface of polyolefin materials has been a key technical barrier for many potential applications.
Alexium has successfully demonstrated its RST process for durable, functional treatments to polyolefin fibres by employing "cold" microwave technology to coat fibres via a "shrink wrap" effect of the coating around the fibre.
Global polyolefin demand is currently about 113 million tons per year, but only about 10% is used in textiles.
Consumption of polyolefin textiles exceeded €3 billion in 2000, with steady growth of around 5%.
The market spans very high end applications, for example woven Dyneema, and very low end, for example non-woven polypropylene or plastic parts.
"The cost/value is dramatically different, depending on the specific polyolefin material, construction, etcetera," Rezos told Proactive Investors.
"The cost of polyethylene in Western Europe is about $1,000 per ton. With additional processing steps, especially for high-end material such as Dyneema, the costs should be higher, but very difficult to quantify."
Alexium is initiating several commercial demonstration pilots to apply antimicrobials, adhesion promoters, and flame retardants to polyolefin fibres.
Rezos said had already used one company's product in demonstration trials.
"We have used one company's product already in demonstration trials to show we can successfully functionalise the material - in this case we added fire retardance to a material that melts at around 120 degrees and is widely used in high end medial applications."
Alexium has now received requests from manufacturers to carry out tests.
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