Canadian Plastics

Dow Polyurethanes develops natural oil polyols for urethane

Dow Polyurethanes, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, has successfully completed preliminary development ...

October 2, 2006   Canadian Plastics

Dow Polyurethanes, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, has successfully completed preliminary development of natural oil polyols (NOPs) for urethane formulations and will begin product sampling with a select group of customers immediately.
Dow plans to begin market development scale production of the next-generation polyols in 2007.
Dow first announced its intention to conduct small-scale product testing of NOPs with select customers in June of 2005.
Since then, Dow has continued to invest in further advancing the technology and capabilities of these new products.
Now the company is moving ahead to the market development scale production phase.
“Our developmental work has reached the point where we are now able to produce natural oil polyols that can match or exceed the performance of hydrocarbon-based products, and at fairly high levels of natural oil polyol content,” Pat Dawson, business vice-president, Dow Polyurethanes, said.
Early developers of NOPs experienced several performance challenges when incorporating NOPs into formulations such as retaining tensile strength, resiliency, and compression set, according to Dow.
And, as they increased the level of NOPs in formulations, the processability of the foam was often compromised.
Dow said it has overcome some of these obstacles.
“We’ve achieved this improved level of performance by creating optimized blends of NOPs and propylene oxide polyols,” Dawson explained. “By working with a select group of customers during this next phase, we will continue to refine the performance attributes of these products so that they meet specific customer needs.”
To enable more extensive product sampling and scale-up of small, beta projects, Dow plans to begin market development scale production of soy-based polyols in 2007.
Meanwhile, the company is exploring various production options to support additional capacity as customer demand for the products grow.
Based on progress in this second phase, Dow will evaluate options for this new line of natural oil polyols, which includes bringing on additional capacity and expanding into new applications and geographies.
Dow’s investment in natural oil polyols is part of the firm’s recently announced 2015 Sustainability Goals, one aspect of which calls for investment in products and technologies that will help reduce industry’s dependency on non-renewable resources.
Natural oil polyols can be made from soybeans, sunflower seeds or rapeseeds, although Dow’s technology currently focuses on a polyol that contains a significant percent of oil extracted from soybeans.
Dow’s intention is to ultimately develop a NOP-based multi-generational product line that provides customers with superior solutions to meet their needs in applications such as flexible slab, molded, and some CASE applications.
Additionally, other Dow businesses, such as Dow Automotive, are working with their customers to introduce natural oil polyols into automotive applications.
“We now have the technology, the results and the capabilities to take the first step toward providing a full line of natural oil polyols to customers around the globe,” Dawson noted.


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