ATLANTA (ICIS)--New innovations in catalysts and surfactants will speed the shift to fourth-generation blowing agents, according to a senior executive at French producer Arkema.
“The transition to the fourth-generation of blowing agents has started but has been slowed a bit by regulatory uncertainty. Many companies are currently testing formulations to get products ready by the time new regulations take effect,” Paul Lavallee stated.
Lavallee, global market manager, foam and special products director, flourochemicals, spoke to ICIS on the sidelines of the 2018 annual technical conference of the Center for the Polyurethane Industry (CPI).
“The industry is actively adding capacity for fourth-generation hydroflouroolefin (HFO) blowing agents and more new capacity is on the way,” Lavallee said.
Lavallee said that the challenges presented by a patchwork of regional regulations rather than national or international regulatory frameworks are one of the main obstacles slowing the transition to fourth-generation blowing agents.
Many US states are implementing their own regulations on blowing agents, which increases costs and uncertainty for the industry.
The industry would be better served by the US implementing the global framework agreed to in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol rather than relying on a patchwork of state regulations.
The time and effort needed to implement a change in formulations is another obstacle to a more rapid shift to fourth-generation blowing agents.
“Many formulators need third-party verification before they can implement any change in their formulations and this is delaying the transition to fourth generation blowing agents,” Lavallee commented.
Touching on some of the technological innovations occurring to speed the transition, Lavallee said that a number of catalysts and surfactant suppliers are debuting products that will extend the shelf-life of systems based on fourth-generation HFO blowing agents.
Several of these innovations have been announced during the sessions at this year's technical conference, he added.
The Polyurethanes Technical Conference runs through Wednesday.