BASF innovates latest in environmentally friendly refrigeration using polyurethane foam systems
We recently talked with BASF technical manager Mike Krupa about his Polyurethane Innovation Award application for the 2014 Polyurethanes Technical Conference. Learn more about how Mike and his BASF colleagues are changing the world of refrigeration with polyurethane foam. (Hint- it’s better for the environment!)
Q. Can you explain BASF’s new Elastocool® rigid foam?
A. We developed an innovation forward refrigeration polyurethane foam system that is better for the environment. Our system has improved insulation to meet new strict energy standards. BASF is helping to develop insulation foams that are better for people and the environment—this can also help to minimize climate change.
Q. How did the idea happen? Did anything in particular inspire you?
A. The inspiration was new regulations from the Department of Energy and a new foam blowing agent. We used the new foam blowing agent to create the new system. It took a lot of research to make the foam blowing agent work for refrigeration foam. We learned that our system can improve energy efficiency in a refrigerator by three percent, which can help consumers with energy and utility bills. I think a lot of consumers see the Energy Star on their appliances—and our PU foam product will help to meet new Energy Star requirements.
Q. Your product will create a new type of polyurethane foam system which is exceptionally energy efficient for the domestic refrigeration market which will benefit consumers as well. What is the most meaningful for you when it comes to innovating products for the end-use market and consumers?
A. I have a lot of personal satisfaction that I’ve developed a system that is good for all of us and can help with climate change.
Q. What was the biggest challenge for you to overcome?
A. The first foam systems didn’t work as well as we’d like. We formulated it in the lab and by the time it got to the customer, the foam didn’t work. Therefore we changed the chemistry to improve the shelf life stability of the foam system. At first the substance used to create the foam system would only work for a couple of days and now it lasts for over three months.
Q. What is the next step?
A. We are now developing foam systems for other applications such as commercial refrigeration and marine refrigeration—that’s the foam that goes into hulls in large boats. Basically the foam helps boats float. At BASF, we continue to create chemistry for a variety of applications that help with energy efficiency and provide best-in-class thermal performance for our customers.
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