Huntsman Polyurethanes has been at the forefront of developments to replace CFC and HCFC blowing agents ever since the debate about ozone depletion started in the 1970s and 1980s.
As well as developing new technologies, it has participated actively in both developed and developing countries to assist its customers in meeting progressive phase-out schedules whilst retaining all the benefits of polyurethane foams.
Blowing agents are necessary in all types of foams and microcellular elastomers.
For molded flexible foams, water (CO2) technology is now the most widely used. Variants of this technology are also widely used in integral skin and shoe-soling elastomers.
For rigid insulating foams, the replacement challenge is greater as the blowing agent also contributes to the insulation properties. For many markets, hydrocarbon-blowing agents present the best options. However, where the best insulation value and product flammability performance or process safety considerations dominate there is a need for HFC blowing agents.
There are international and national regulations which apply to blowing agents.
For developed countries, the Montreal Protocol requires the availability of HCFCs to be reduced by 35 percent in 2004, with phase-out by 2020.
In the European Union, a new regulation (EC 2037/2000) has come into force. This requires the phase-out of the use of HCFCs for foams to be completed by 1/1/2004.
Some European countries have even earlier phase-out dates. In developing countries, the Montreal protocol requires CFC phase-out by 2010. However, many developed countries are well in advance of this schedule.
The debate about appropriate controls on the use of HFCs has started in Europe and Huntsman is an industry leader in this process.
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