A Young Chemist’s Work Helps to Conserve Energy Resources, Empowering Consumers to Do More with Less
Name: Raul Dacomba
Title: Senior Chemist
Company: Foam Supplies Inc.
Educational Background: B.S. Chemical Engineering, Michigan State University
Senior chemist Raul Dacomba was lucky. Professional inspiration struck him at a young age, but to hear him tell it, it came about in an unusual way.
“My earliest memory of really being interested in the sciences came in the form of a TV commercial, believe it or not,” Raul says. “It was a spot for a toy chemistry set, and I have this vivid memory of it. I remember seeing that set and thinking it was exciting the way various chemicals could be combined to create something entirely different and interesting.”
An Early Knack for Polymers
From seeing that commercial in his early childhood to later taking science classes in high school, Raul found he had a knack for chemistry. In fact, before he had even taken any college courses, he uncovered a particular interest in polyurethanes.
“While in high school, I became interested in knowing more about how polymers formed,” he says. “Later in college, I took elective courses where I learned a bit about composites and polymers. And, by the time I graduated as a Chemical Engineer, I was hooked, looking for job opportunities exclusively in polymer sciences and materials.”
Finding a Fit at Foam Supplies, Inc.
After graduating, Raul began his career at Foam Supplies, Inc., a polyurethane foam supplier based in Missouri with offices worldwide.
“I was like a kid in a candy shop. It was truly the first time I got to know polyurethanes in-depth,” Raul says. “There was so much to learn about a variety of the company’s offerings and their specific applications. Further, there were dozens of products still in their developmental stages.”
In his current position, Raul concentrates mainly on product development, where he is tasked with creating new polyurethane foam formulations and modifying existing formulations to deliver solutions to customers.
“My job requires me to be very solutions-focused. It’s a form of troubleshooting. You don’t know what the day will throw at you,” Raul says. “Although it can be stressful, having a ‘not-so-typical’ work environment, where no two days are the same, is certainly something I enjoy.”
Foam Supplies Inc.’s formulations not only must work; but also, it is the key responsibility of Raul’s team to test and ensure that each is commercially viable.
“Figuring out how to scale up these formulations and making sure they are suitable for real-life application is a big part of my job,” he says. “Working at such a large scale, doing anything with such high stakes, is exciting but also incredibly harrowing.”
Understanding the Impact of Polyurethane on Daily Life
Although he first discovered his talent for polymers at a young age, it took several years of working in the polyurethane industry for Raul to understand their impact on daily life.
“I started to notice how ubiquitous polyurethane is in almost all aspects of modern life,” Raul says. “It is a material so versatile that has proven to be a game-changer for a number of applications from improving fuel efficiency in cars to making our office chairs more comfortable.”
Polyurethane’s Role in Improving Energy Efficiency
As the world’s population continues to rise and natural resources become stretched, humanity must figure out ways to do more with less. Raul believes that improving energy efficiency is a large-scale challenge that the polyurethane industry is working to solve.
“The polyurethane industry is versatile and is most certainly key in tackling this problem in several ways,” Raul says. “For us, here at Foam Supplies, we’re working to create next-generation formulations that use environmentally friendly blowing agents, offering efficient, improved performance and reduction of energy consumption”
Raul emphasizes that in his experience working in foam systems, polyurethane is a rapidly evolving field. The innovative breakthroughs are helping to inform and influence the future of automotive and building design.
“I appreciate the value new polyurethane foam technology offers, especially in insulation,” Raul says. “I think that polyurethanes will continue to be instrumental in reducing energy consumption while improving new products and other technologies by demonstrating further efficiency in temperature control.”
A Future Informed by Need
As Raul looks to the future, he says he has no concrete plan about where his career might take him. Instead, a love for his work and a desire to help find new energy solutions are the most determinant factors guiding his professional path.
“A point of interest for me is to continue the effort to find sustainable bio-based polyurethane options that are equal or better than fossil-fuel alternatives,” Raul says. “In addition, there is so much to learn in the field of polyurethane. A desire to learn something new every day and advancing my chemistry skills will continue to be the drivers of my career.”
The most rewarding part of any job is seeing the end result of one’s efforts and, if one is so lucky, how those efforts may be helping humanity. For Raul, the case is no different.
“I find it rewarding that my job contributes towards solutions to energy savings and advancing various technologies,” he says. “It is a great feeling knowing formulations that took months to develop are now successfully used for large-scale application.”
Through his work, Raul continues to guide energy-saving solutions for non-renewable resources that will likely have a positive global impact in the years and decades to come.