What is the Cold Chain?

This video explains the cold chain and shows how valuable it is in getting food and medicines to people around the world. Foam Supplies is proud to play a key role in every link in the cold chain with our wide range of insulating polyurethane foam products… including ecofoam, ecospray, ecoroof and many others.

Polyurethane Blowing Agents Can Be Environmentally Friendly and Still Offer Superior Insulating Properties

This informative article was featured on the Engineering 360 website. It details the history of foam blowing agents and the environmentally friendly options available today (like ecomate) that let manufacturers eliminate the use of harmful HFCs.

As far as outstanding insulating properties, it is hard to beat polyurethanes. The versatile chemistry allows the materials to solve many challenges, while providing underlying value to both industrial and consumer products.

Polyurethanes are formed by reacting a polyol with a diisocyanate or a polymeric isocyanate in the presence of suitable catalysts and additives. Because a variety of diisocyanates and polyols can be used in polyurethane production, a spectrum of materials can be produced to address specific applications.

Since its invention in the 1940s, polyurethane has emerged as one of the best insulators available. Most refrigerators and freezers are made with a metal outer shell, a plastic inner liner, and a layer of polyurethane foam insulation sandwiched in between. The foam material’s thermal properties help control the heat exchange and enable a streamlined manufacturing process.

Critical to making compact yet highly efficient polyurethane is the blowing agent. The blowing agent is a substance capable of producing a cellular structure by a foaming process. It is typically applied when the material is still liquid. During the manufacturing process, the blowing agent expands the foam, enabling it to fill cavities and providing excellent physical properties. The cellular structure helps reduce density even as it increases the material’s thermal insulation and stiffness.

Next-Generation Appliance Foams: The Challenges Ahead

One of our Chemists, Raul Dacomba, wrote a white paper for Appliance Design.

Change is a certainty in this world, and the appliance industry is no exception. Regulatory mandates are imposing yet another transition to a new generation of polyurethane foam blowing agents. The legislation states that Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and blends will be unacceptable for use starting January 2020. Refrigerant use will be unacceptable starting January 2021.

A blowing agent is one of many key ingredients used to manufacture polyurethane foams; their inherently low thermal conductivities are a desired trait. Before delving into specifics on the future of appliance foams, it is important to understand the history of blowing agents.

Download the paper as a PDF

For further information, we recommend reading:

Rigid Polyurethane Pour In Place (PIP)


Case Study: Methyl methanoate foam

Large sophisticated companies can use a wide range of highly flammable foam-blowing agents, but the costs of appropriate safety measures are too much for SMEs.

Methyl methanoate is an ozone-safe, negligible-GWP alternative to HCFCs in a wide range of foam applications. As a pure chemical, methyl methanoate is highly flammable, but it can be used safely in a pre-blended form with other foam ingredients. UNDP recommends that foam system houses qualified for the safe use of flammable ingredients produce the pre-blended foam mix that can then be safely used by SMEs and other downstream users (UNDP 2010).1

At its 56th meeting, the Executive Committee of the MLF approved a demonstration project that gave UNDP the mandate to 1) assess the application of methyl-formate (MF) based systems (Ecomate™) in the manufacture of polyurethane foam, 2) compare the technical performance of the new systems with HCFC-141b-based systems, and 3) establish the feasibility of using methyl-formate-based systems in MLF projects.

A pilot project has been designed around Purcom Quimica, the largest independent foam technology system house in Brazil, which specializes in tailor-made polyurethane (PU) systems covering most PU applications. The project assessed 15 applications in moulded flexible slabstock, elastomers, integral skin and rigid foam sub-sectors. The application of PU foam in shoe-soles was assessed through a pilot project executed by Quimiuretanos Zadro, a system house in Mexico that specializes in PU soles used in the manufacture of shoes (UNDP 2012).2

The successful projects in Mexico and Brazil were the prelude to rapid market penetration of the technology in twelve A5 Parties funded by the MLF. According to the MLF secretariat, implementation involved more than fifteen local foam system houses and hundreds of downstream users, with a total of 5,000 metric tonnes of HCFC-141b phased out.3

Methyl methanoate is not only the technology selected for a large number of applications in Latin American countries, but also has had penetration in countries in other regions. Currently, methyl methanoate systems are being commercialized in Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, former Soviet countries, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Phillipines, Russian Federation, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, the US, and Vietnam.4

In Brazil, methyl methanoate foam also is used in the manufacturing of houses for low-income families.5 Houses have been built using this technology in Africa and South America (Angola, Mozambique, Paraguay and Uruguay). The technology also can be used to provide low-cost construction in countries where people have been displaced after natural disasters. The market penetration of methyl methanoate technology and the technical assistance that system houses such as Purcom have provided to A5 Parties are positive examples of South-South cooperation to protect the ozone layer and mitigate climate change.

1 UNDP (2010) Methyl Methanoate as Blowing Agent in the Manufacture of Polyurethane Foam Systems An Assessment for the Application in MLF Projects.
2 UNDP (2012) Methyl Methanoate as Blowing Agent in the Manufacture of Polyurethane Foam Systems An Assessment for the Application in MLF Projects.
3 UNEP (2014) Overview of Approved HCFC Demonstration Projects and Options for Additional Projects to Demonstrate Climate-Friendly and Energy-Efficient Alternative Technologies to HCFCs (Decision 71/51 (a)), UNEP/OzL.Pro/ExCom/72/40.
4 Personal communication with FSI, September 2014
5 www.casamodularfischer.com.br

This case study is an excerpt from the paper ‘Alternatives to High-GWP Hydrofluorocarbon’ Published by the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. You can view the entire paper here: http://igsd.org/documents/HFCSharpeningReport.pdf