PFA Technical Program Agenda, May 25, 2017

November 8, 2018 Technical Program Abstracts

Four Seasons Hotel
St. Louis, MO
Note: Additional Presentations May Be Added

Optimized Surfactants for MDI-based Viscoelastic and Supersoft Foams 

Melissa Kern (presenter), Yevgen Berezhanskyy, Gabriel Kiss, Lorenzo Fiore, Marcel Hartmann Momentive Performance Materials


Specialty foam grades, such as viscoelastic and supersoft foams, heavily rely on the use of specialized types of raw materials. Producing a variety of foam grades, each with a specialized formulation, requires a large number of raw materials. As a result, new product development encounters space and equipment constraints. One solution is to develop a silicone surfactant that can achieve the desired foam properties using common, readily available raw materials. 

Silicone surfactants are essential not only for foam stabilization but also in the determination of final foam properties.  These are achieved via the surfactant’s ability to control cell structure and foam openness.   Momentive has dedicated significant effort to the development of distinct surfactants that allow production of specialty foam grades using readily available, standard raw materials.  For example, Niax* Silicone L-417 and Niax Silicone L-422 can be used to produce multiple specialty foam grades (e.g., pneumatic viscoelastic and supersoft), using the same raw materials and nearly identical foam formulations. 

*Niax is a trademark of Momentive Performance Materials Inc.

Occupational Toluene Diisocyanate (TDI) Exposure and the Incidence of Occupational Asthma 

Patrick Conner, MD


The American Chemistry Council's Diisocyanates Panel and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) engaged in a joint longitudinal study to inform the management of health risks in U.S. TDI manufacturing facilities. The objectives were to: 1) characterize workplace TDI concentrations; 2) monitor employee health through questionnaires and spirometry; 3) investigate potential cases of occupational asthma using a standardized medical evaluation process; 4) create a registry of occupational asthma cases, if any, occurring among workers with potential exposure to TDI; 5) evaluate the effectiveness of the program methods, including the standardized health and environmental monitoring procedures; and 6) communicate program findings. Ultimately, three plants, with an estimated eligible workforce of 300, participated between 2006 and 2012. Dr. Conner, retired from BASF, will discuss the study methods, including medical monitoring of workers; the exposure assessment to characterize jobs and specific tasks; and study results, including health outcomes from medical assessments and incidence of occupational asthma.

Improved Fire Safety Without Flame Retardants--An Industry Challenge Or Opportunity

Irena Amici-Kroutilova
, Dow Chemical Co.



In the UK, flammability standards (such as BS 5852, Crib 5) are the most stringent globally. They are mainly met through the use of halogenated flame retardants such as TCPP.  In contrast, other European nations have no flammability regulations but mattresses and upholstery face limits on emissions of volatile compounds established by regulation, eco-labels and brand owner requirements. 

The tension between flammability standards and VOC limits increases manufactuing costs and complexity and threatens the global availability of certain comfort innovations. And comfort is a key driver of bedding and furniture purchases.

The authors discuss the challenge of formulating polyurethane foam to meet all fire safety, emission standards, and customers expectations of comfort on a global basis.


Inter-Lab Testing Of Smolder Resistance of Upholstered Furniture Components

Lynn Knudtson, Fut
ure Foam


PFA managed a multi-lab study to support ASTM’s translation of Calif. TB 117-2013 furniture regulation  into an international standard test method.  Participating labs included PFA Manufacturing and Associate/Supplier Members, government agencies and textile companies. This Round Robin evaluated the impact of two proposed changes to the TB-117-2013 test: (1) the use of a 3" (vs. 2”) standard vertical foam substrate and; and (2) the use of weight loss (vs. vertical char length) as a pass/fail criteria.  Data has been collected and is being processed by ASTM statisticians.  Neither of the proposed changes appear to alter pass/fail results.  Based on these results, the ASTM 05.15 sub-committee voted to continue using char length, along with either 2" and 2" or the 3" and 3" foam combinations (whichever has the best repeatability and reproducibility  as determined by ASTM staff). This result should minimize disruption to the industry from large-scale retesting of components.