Chemtura, the specialty chemical maker now under Chapter 11 reorganization, has signed a series of agreements and settled a lawsuit with Albemarle to help pave the way for a restructuring of its business in bromine derivatives.
Under the agreement, Albemarle is signing over its 17% stake in a bromine-rich brine field in Union County, Ark., that is managed by Chemtura. The transfer consolidates Chemtura’s ownership of the field, according to Anne Noonan, Chemtura’s vice president of flame retardants. The field is the most productive in South Arkansas, she says, and among the most competitive in the world.
As part of the deal, Albemarle will manufacture the plastics flame retardants tetrabromobisphenol A, decabromodiphenyl oxide, and decabromodiphenyl ethane for Chemtura. Albemarle will also supply Chemtura with n-propyl bromide and sodium bromide.
In addition, the companies are settling an eight-year-old lawsuit in which Albemarle accused Chemtura of infringing its patents for decabromodiphenyl ethane flame retardants and bromine vacuum tower technology.
As part of the settlement, the companies have cross-licensed rights to market decabromodiphenyl ethane, a substitute for the flame retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (decaDBE). Chemtura, Albemarle, and Israel’s ICL Industrial Products pledged last month to phase out decaDBE as part of an EPA initiative because of concern over its potential impact on human health (C&EN, Jan. 4, page 10).
“The settlement saves both companies a lot of money on litigation,” Noonan says. “And it allows for the redeployment of resources toward what brings value.”
Chemtura intends to quickly deploy decabromodiphenyl ethane to customers that want to protect plastics such as high-impact polystyrene.