Alexium International has been selected by the US Army Natick Soldier Systems Center to advance to the second stage of the development of non-inherent flame retardant (FR) 50 / 50 nylon-cotton (NYCO) fabric uniforms.

Developed as part of Natick’s Green Initiative, the next-generation FR, durable, halogen-free, 50 / 50 NYCO uniforms will replace the expensive inherently FR fabrics, and serve as the foundation fabric for garments across all branches of the US military.

The garments include the standard army combat uniform (ACU), the flame-retardant army combat uniform (FRACU) and the Marine Corps combat utility uniform (MCCUU) along with similar programmes in the US Air Force and new programmes for the navy.

During the first round, Alexium provided a FR coating solution to the US Department of Defense (DoD) that can allow low-cost, environmentally-friendly, durable 50 / 50 NYCO to displace vastly more expensive inherently FR fabrics in the four major military branches.

In addition, the company’s technology offers the potential to allow standard issue non-combat uniforms to be made flame-retardant on a cost effective basis so as to provide FR protection to all defence sector personnel irrespective of their deployed location.

"The selection of Alexium FR solutions to the second stage is a significant validation of not only the performance of our unique chemistries."

Alexium chief executive officer Nicholas Clark said: "The selection of Alexium FR solutions to the second stage is a significant validation of not only the performance of our unique chemistries, but also our ability to adapt our proprietary chemistries to new textile substrates to meet cost and performance criteria."

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Alexium Operations general manager Dirk Van Hyning said: "The very exciting aspect of this new FR effort is that 50 / 50 NYCO is a universally favoured fabric blend in the military, both in the US and overseas, given cost and fabric durability but before now, there was no effective FR solution for 50 / 50 NYCO."

Slated for September, the next down selection round includes more demanding wash requirements and other criteria, and will be followed by final selection before the end of this year.

Apart from the US Armed Forces, several foreign militaries, including Israel and Turkey, are exploring transition to 50 / 50 NYCO uniforms for FR protection for their soldiers.

According to the company, the annual global military market for 50 / 50 NYCO FR coatings is in excess of $240m.