Technical Superiority and Support: Another FSI Advantage

For nearly 50 years, Foam Supplies has been distinguished not just by our products, but by our technical support as well. In fact, we are the only major polyurethane systems provider to offer routine, on-site maintenance to our customers to make sure that unplanned downtime is kept to a minimum.

At FSI, “Service What We Sell” is more than just a slogan – it’s one of the founding principles on which our business is based. And after nearly five decades, we’re proud to say that no other company can match our proactive approach to meeting all of our customers’ polyurethane needs – including their associated technical and troubleshooting needs – through our ongoing commitment to service.

Offering regular on-site service, training and support is part of our total commitment to customer success. It all starts with developing the right chemical system for your unique needs, progresses through extensive trials and demonstrations to optimize processes and ensure product performance, and continues with ongoing communication and personal visits to assure your operation runs smoothly and successfully.

Foam Supplies is not just a polyurethane chemical provider… we’re a true partner who’s there with our customers every step of the way. Find out more about our technical service and support here or contact your FSI representative to discuss your maintenance and support needs.

Don’t Let the Coming Cold Affect Your Foam’s Performance

With the hot days of summer behind us, it’s time to start planning for the cold days ahead (depending on your location, of course). Process control is important in any weather, but for polyurethane foam users, fall and winter are particularly important times to pay attention to chemical temperatures.

Foaming with chemicals that are too cold can adversely affect final foam performance, sometimes significantly. It’s important to keep your polyurethane chemicals within a consistent temperature range, especially with temperatures dropping below freezing – not to mention below zero – in many parts of the US. Properly storing your polyurethane chemicals is also critical to maintaining optimal shelf life.

Here are some important facts to remember:

  • Do NOT store chemicals at temperatures below 50°F.
  • Pre-heat chemicals to 75° – 90°F prior to use. Depending on vessel size, pre-heating will
    take a minimum of 12 hours and up to 48 hours in an 85°F temperature-controlled
    room.
  • Maintain chemical temperatures of 75° – 90°F during use.

When in doubt, Foam Supplies is always here to help! You’ll find optimal storage and use temperatures, as well as other important information, listed in the Safety Data Sheet for each chemical system we offer. And of course, always feel free to contact your FSI representative if you have any other questions on how temperature can affect your foam performance.

Kigali Amendment Effective as of January 1, 2019

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol has been ratified by 71 countries. Here’s what it could mean for your business.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer became effective January 1st of this year, following ratification by 71 countries in the accord. The Amendment was created to help reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by more than 80 per cent over the next 30 years, which is projected to reduce global warming by up to 0.4°C this century.

Under the amendment, developed countries will reduce HFC consumption beginning in 2019. Most developing countries will freeze consumption in 2024, with a small number of developing countries with unique circumstances freezing consumption in 2028.

If you are a US manufacturer still using HFC-blown polyurethanes, you are no doubt aware that these changes will affect your company’s ability to export your products in the very near future. Plus, the United States could also ratify the agreement at any time, which would ultimately eliminate the use of HFCs here at home.

With the future of HFC blowing agents in serious doubt worldwide, one thing is certain: Ecomate® blowing agent technology is the proven effective alternative to HFCs that is available right now in both rigid and flexible polyurethane foam systems. Ecomate-based foam systems will meet or exceed the properties achieved with HFC-134a, HFC-245fa and other HFC blowing agents – including critical foam properties such as thermal efficiency, adhesion, dimensional stability, flotation and more.

While the US has yet to ratify the Kigali Amendment, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the US Chamber of Commerce and various trade organizations are strongly in favor of it. They say that the goals of the Kigali Amendment can be accomplished without an increase in costs to the U.S. consumer, and in some cases can generate savings, and also be a win for the environment and the U.S. economy.

To learn more about how the Kigali Amendment reduces climate change, watch this short animated video prepared by UN Environment, the leading global voice on the environment.

Polyurethanes for Rotomolded Products

From the smallest coolers to the largest shipping containers, rotationally molded products often require effective insulation. And when it comes to insulating properties, it’s hard to beat polyurethanes. The versatile chemistry and ability to be “poured-in-place” solves many challenges for a wide range of products – not only for insulation, but also for flotation and/or structural support.

Polyurethanes are formed by reacting a polyol with either a diisocyanate or a polymeric isocyanate in the presence of suitable catalysts and additives, then adding a blowing agent, which produces a cellular structure and provides the insulation value. During manufacturing, the blowing agent expands the liquid polyurethane chemicals, enabling them to fill cavities of any shape or size before solidifying into a rigid foam.

The History of Blowing Agents

The polyurethane foam industry is now in its fourth distinct generation of blowing agents. Starting in the 1960s, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were the original blowing agents, offering thermal efficiencies twice those of earlier insulation. But CFCs destroy ozone molecules when they break down. This is referred to as a blowing agent’s Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). Because of their high ODPs, CFCs have long been banned in the U.S. and nearly worldwide through the Montreal Protocol.

In the 1990s, manufacturers introduced the second generation of blowing agents, HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). HCFCs offered lower ODP, but also provided reduced thermal values. Continuing concern over ozone depletion led to the phase out of HCFCs in most developed countries.

In the early 2000s, the third generation of blowing agents, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were introduced. HFCs, which are still in use today, have no ODP. However, HFCs again reduced thermal efficiency compared to earlier blowing agents. Plus, it was later found that HFCs contribute to global warming. Due to their high Global Warming Potential (GWP), HFCs have been targeted for phase out by a long list of organizations and governments.

Eliminating HFCs

Current global agreements such as the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement contain provisions to phase out HFC blowing agents. In the U.S., a 2015 rule under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program called for the phase out of HFCs to reduce GWP. But in 2017 a court ruled that the EPA lacked authority to extend the SNAP program (originally formed to reduce ODP) to GWP. So, the EPA rule will most likely not be enforced as currently written.

However, current US federal policy issues should not distract attention from what has become a global shift away from HFC blowing agents that have high GWP values. For example, the state of California recently passed a law which adopts the EPA rules for phasing out HFCs. That law applies to all products made in – and shipped into – the state.

Three other states – New York, Maryland and Connecticut – have already announced similar plans. These and another 15 states are part of the US Climate Alliance, which has committed to adopting the policies of the Paris Agreement to completely phase out HFCs.

Considering the US state and international actions on HFCs, manufacturers who want to sell their products nationwide (or worldwide) will soon be forced to use non-HFC blowing agents in their polyurethane foam. Fortunately, there are viable “fourth generation” options available now.

Fourth-Generation Blowing Agents

Fourth-generation blowing agents – with no ODP and greatly reduced or no GWP – now include three main options:

Hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs)
HFO blowing agents are the newest of the fourth generation blowing agents. They offer increased thermal performance compared to third generation HFCs and are non-flammable. However, they have high molecular weights, meaning more blowing agent is required, which increases costs. A widely reported issue with HFOs is in-situ acid formation, which has detrimental effects on catalysts and hence, shortens shelf-life stability. Further, some HFOs have been found to produce trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), which bioaccumulates and could have a potential long-term environmental impact.

Hydrocarbons (HCs)
HCs such as cyclopentane, n-pentane and isopentane have a low molecular weight and can offer lower costs than other blowing agents. But they also offer lower thermal efficiency than the other fourth generation options. In addition, they are highly flammable, requiring upfront investment in safety equipment. They are also volatile organic compounds (VOCs), meaning they produce smog.

Ecomate®
Ecomate, based on naturally occurring methyl methanoate and produced by Foam Supplies, Inc., has been in commercial use since 2002, making it a proven option. It offers excellent thermal properties (similar to HFOs) and has a low molecular weight, so less quantity is required to reach needed densities – an economic advantage. Ecomate is a liquid at room temperature and is flammable in its “neat” form, but not when blended into a polyurethane system – so no special equipment is needed. Ecomate is used in Ecofoam® insulating foam and Ecomarine™ flotation foam.

Conclusion

Polyurethanes will continue to be used in a broad variety of rotomolded products due to their flexibility and insulating properties, as well as flotation and structural support. The good news is that two of the fourth generation blowing agents – Ecomate and HFOs – end the historical tradeoff between insulating performance and environmental safety. As a result, foams made with these blowing agents can help manufacturers meet both thermal efficiency needs and environmental regulations (national and international). And with ecomate, it can all be done with no increase in manufacturing costs.