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Australian fire retardant protects US military

Australian chemical maker Alexium has secured a contract, following two years of negotiations, to apply a fire retardant chemical on US soldiers’ uniforms.

The military partnership marks a rapid turnaround for the Perth-based company, whose share price has grown considerably over the year thanks to the hard work of chief executive Nick Clark in the United States.

The US Department of Defence is funding field trials of the Alexium-treated uniforms which are expected to be completed in the first half of 2016.

The fire retardant chemistry, which Mr Clark says is 100 per cent environmentally friendly as well as being “cost effective”, works by “sucking out the oxygen” to stop a flame igniting or slow down a burn.

When Clark first arrived in the US the Alexium team was working in a laboratory in a warehouse no bigger than a domestic garage. People have now taken notice and travelled to Alexium’s laboratory in South Carolina.

“The reality is … we provided with them with a solution that they couldn’t legitimately say no to. It was environmentally friendly, it works and it’s cost effective.” Said Mr Clark Alexium is not pinning all its hopes on military work.

The company is already in the automotive space, providing fire retardant treatments to car carpets, seating fabrics and engine linings.

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