October 4 , 2007, PFA Technical Program, Marriott Grand Hotel Spa & Resort, Point Clear, AL

 “Chlorophosphate Flame Retardants Used in Flexible Polyurethane Foam – A Regulatory Update” Raymond B. Dawson, Sylvia Jacobi, Susan D. Landry, and Nancy O’Malley, Albemarle Corporation

The use of flame retardants in polyurethane foam has resulted in a substantial reduction in fire deaths. In the end-use application, flame retardants delay the spread of fires or delay the time of flashover in order to enable people more time to escape the effects of the fires. The purpose of flame retardants in many everyday products is to save lives and property. Information is being generated on the potential health and environmental effects of the flame retardants that are used in polyurethane foam. Several of these chlorophosphate flame retardants are currently undergoing EU Risk Assessments, some of which will be completed in 2007. Some evaluations have also been performed in the US. The new EU chemical regulation “REACH” requires industry to register all existing and future new substances (including flame retardants) with the new European Chemicals Agency. This paper will address the current regulatory status of chlorophosphate flame retardants used in flexible polyurethane foam. Updates on the status of the EU Risk Assessments, US activity, REACH, and worldwide regulations involving these flame retardants will be presented.

 “Novel Environment-friendly Catalyst for Flexible Slabstock Foams” Hiroyuki Kiso, Hiroyuki Kometani, and Yutaka Tamano, Tosoh Corporation Chemical Research Laboratory

Flexible slabstock polyurethane foams have been widely used in automotive interior parts, residential upholstered furniture and bedding. In recent years, the market for flexible slabstock foams has witnessed rapid growth worldwide and the flexible foam industry has been increasing the production capacity, especially in emerging country. In addition, the automotive and furniture industries have a demand for environment-friendly products. In order to increase the productivity and reduce the effects on the environment, the flexible foam industry has improved raw material, manufacturing equipment and production method, however has not considered catalysts very well.

Stannous octoate and Triethylenediamine (TEDA) has been generally used as a catalyst for flexible slabstock foams, however these catalysts have been found to contribute to VOC emissions. Especially, there is a move to reduce stannous octoate (tin catalyst) from the formulations because tin catalyst has a negative effect on the environment. TOSOH Corporation has performed a comprehensive investigation from the viewpoint of catalysts for years. We have developed TOYOCAT-SL20 which is a novel amine catalyst for use in slabstock foam formulation.

TOYOCAT-SL20 exhibit high catalytic activity and makes fine cell foam compared to conventional amine catalyst. Even in case of producing low density foam, it will not cause defoam problem and can improve split or crack problem with wide tin catalyst process range. Also, SL20 contributes positively to the foam cure. It means SL20 can help the productivity improvement. Moreover, SL20 enables to reduce VOC emissions problem because this catalyst can cut tin and amine catalyst amount.

In this report, we will introduce these results and new knowledge on catalysts. In addition, we would like to discuss the influence of catalysts on foam properties and VOC emissions.

 “A New Method for Measuring Dimensions of Foam Buns” Daryl K. Rutt, CIA Engineering

Current methods for determining foam slabstock as-poured dimensions typically rely on hand measurements of bun sample pieces. Hand measurements are difficult to perform with consistent accuracy, and being costly, are only performed on a small percentages of buns poured. This practice invariably leads to conservative estimates of the maximum rectangular block dimensions that could be cut from a batch of buns and hence to excessive scrap margins. A measurement method based on a laser/rangecamera technique has been developed to capture closely-spaced dimensions of the entire top and side surfaces of a bun along its complete length, providing a computer-based model of the bun’s surface size shape. The technique is non-contacting and measurements are collected in real time as a bun passes past the laser/rangecamera, for example on a pouring line or on a transfer conveyor. Advantages of this new method include:

  • 100% measurement of every bun vs. statistical sampling
  • Elimination of human measurement error
  • Faster information feedback to pouring head controls
  • Reduction of scrap margins
  • Automated generation of QC reports for each bun, batch and formulation run
  • Storage of software models of bun size and shape for subsequent use in downstream Processes

Subsequent processing of the stored bun shape software models produced by the laser/rangecamera can yield further advantages in the area of process automation and product traceability, such as:

  • Calculating maximum possible cut-block sizes of each pieces of a foam bun as it is cut into shorter lengths
  • Calculating predicted final cured bun dimensions using pre-determined shrinkage factors
  • Reviewing bun size and shape data versus pouring parameters to optimize pouring settings
  • When compared with square block sizes exiting rail saws, calculating amount of scrap material produced

 “Additives For Emulsions And Dispersions In Flexible Foam Formulations” Ralf Hoffmann, Johannes Büscher and Erin Kelly, BYK

Incompatibility issues are well known even in today’s standard foam formulations. A typical example is the use of fillers such as calcium carbonate in polyol components. Also in more special foams such as supersoft and viscoelastic grades it is essential to use formulation components of different chemical compositions. The products range from limited solubility to complete incompatibility. The desired qualities can only be achieved when homogeneous mix of the formulation occurs.

Inhomogeneity can result in a reduction of physical properties. In the future, the situation is likely to become more complex. In an effort to meet the ever changing market demands, typically requiring improved properties new flexible foam formulations are being tested and introduced. Many include new materials increasing the potential for the formulators to face compatibility issues more often than in the past.

Typical problems are phase separation of liquids, sedimentation and flotation of solid particles or agglomeration of finely dispersed materials. Without proper mixing and sufficient stabilization of the emulsions and dispersions, the targeted improvements are likely be hindered due to phase separation of the incompatible formulation components. Sources for incompatibility in liquid to liquid blends are from the use of a combination of hydrophilic and hydrophobic polyols or the application of new polyols from renewable sources with high hydrophobic characteristics. Problems with sedimentation of solid particles are observed when fillers, solid flame retardants, pigments and powders are part of the formulations. The paper will elaborate concepts of the stabilization of solid-liquid and liquid-liquid interfaces. With the help of examples the paper will offer additive solutions for the application of incompatible formulation components, hence allowing new and interesting physical properties for future flexible foams.

 “Ecomate in Flexible Slabstock Foams, Part 2” John Murphy, Foam Supplies, Inc

Last year we introduced Ecomate to the flexible slabstock industry. At that point we had no full scale commercial runs. With two under our belts at the time of this writing, we would like to share these success stories demonstrating the safety and low cost of conversion, the ease of use, and the properties obtained. Ecomate produces foams similar to those blown with acetone or methylene chloride, but with a lower boiling point [more efficient]. Ecomate is a safer alternative to acetone. Because of its excellent solubility, Ecomate gives slightly softer foams than those formerly achieved with HCFC-141b. It produces very low density foams with very good hand.

Ecomate is vastly superior to water, which builds polyurea giving a boardy feel to foams, and which is poorly compatible with many urethane raw materials. Hydrocarbons suffer from extremely poor solubility, from high flammability, and have VOC issues. Because of these deficiencies, neither is considered as a blowing agent for flexible slabstock foam.

An ideal combination of boiling point and solubility mimicking the solubility and boiling point of 141b makes Ecomate an ideal blowing agent in slabstock foams. No special equipment is needed to dispense it. With about half the molecular weight of 141b and very similar to that of acetone, it compares very favorably to acetone as a foam blowing agent. Because of its lower boiling point it could save on catalyst costs. Combining this efficiency and economy of use with the environmentally friendly nature of Ecomate [zero ODP, zero GWP, and VOC-exempt] there is no doubt that it can be highly appealing to this market.

 “Voluntary Emissions Control Action Program” Glade Squires, BSEF

VECAP is the Voluntary Emissions Control Action Program for commercial brominated flame retardants (BFRs). It was established in 2004 by the BFR industry to identify, control and reduces emissions of BFRs into the environment through partnership with the supply and customer chain. VECAP is a product stewardship industry initiative that reinforces first the control and then the reduction of emissions throughout the manufacturing process by fostering a culture of continuous improvement. The initial results show that VECAP is both practical and a cost effective means of controlling emissions of BFRs and other raw materials utilized by industry. VECAP contributes also to fostering more supply chain communication. The VECAP model is supported by the European regulatory authorities not only as a sustainable solution for managing brominated flame retardants but also as a precursor to handling environmentally sensitive chemicals in general under REACH.