Bayer MaterialScience is currently building a world-scale facility for the continuous production of polymer-filled polyether polyols (PMPOs) at its site in Antwerp (Belgium). On completion, it will have 60,000 mtpa capacity and feature innovative energy saving patented technology.
In contrast to processes used in the past, this facility will also supply products that exhibit low viscosity and consistently high quality and contain very small amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). PMPOs are used in the manufacture of conventional foams with enhanced load bearing (ELB), high load bearing (HLB) foams and high resilience (HR) foams. The foam hardness, which is one of the most important parameters for foam makers, can be controlled using PMPOs without having any impact on foam density or key properties of the foam. Tests conducted by Bayer MaterialScience have shown that the polyol Arcol® HS 100 can be processed in any ratio with the standard polyol Arcol® 1108, which is widespread in polyurethane flexible slab foam production, without adapting the formulation. The tests also showed that the sag factor, which indicates a foam’s degree of comfort, improved with the addition of Arcol® HS 100.
This effect is of particular interest, because the sag factor and hardness usually act in opposition to each other. The manufacturers of high-resilience polyurethane flexible foams based on TDI are often faced with the challenge of how to increase or reduce the hardness of the polyurethane foam without changing the other process parameters and specific foam properties too much. Others methods (adding more water in the recipe or using more material) to achieve the same drives ups the costs while being less efficient. The company claims adding PMPOs such as Hyperlite® 1650 or 1639 allows the hardness of polyurethane foams to be altered while not having a significant impact on the density or other key properties of the foam thereby widening the processing base for manufacturers.