Keske continued: “Blowing agent technology, and specifically developing new technology, has always been at the core of our culture. It wasn’t designed that way… it just happened. From the beginning, we always looked for new solutions, despite what other companies were doing.”
“For instance,” he continued, “as the majors were moving into HCFC-141b systems, we chose a different route. We were one of the first to sell HFC-134a (1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane blowing agent) technology into the market, and we were one of the largest purchasers of 134a blowing agent at one time,” Keske said.
“Then we developed ecomate [based on methyl formate] technology which was patented in 2002,” Keske said.
“That’s three different iterations where we’ve been a leader, a true pioneer in the blowing agent space,” Keske said.
FSI has helped organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] and the World Bank in their efforts to wean the world off CFCs under the Montreal Protocol.
In 2004, FSI established international partnerships to help environmental initiatives and increase its own sales around the world. FSI has distribution partners around the world, as well as production facilities in both India and Asia.
The firm promotes its ecomate technology as an alternative to others because it has no global warming potential, no ozone depletion potential and is VOC exempt.
In addition, its boiling point of around 32°C makes it suitable for use in equatorial and tropical regions, unlike many HCFC and HFC blowing agents, said Keske. Imagine being in a country near the equator and trying to handle something that has a boiling point of 59°F (15°C),” Keske said.
“You would have to chill the blowing agent. How many people are going to invest in insulated blowing agent storage? So many HFCs are out of the question in a number of regions, such as the Middle East,” Keske said.
Looking to the future for blowing agents, Keske said, “we have an exit avenue for current users of HCFCs and HFCs as these blowing agents are phased out around the world. In addition, we have had discussions with other blowing agent manufacturers about helping utilise their technologies and about being a resource for them in market areas where they can grow.”
From Olin to St Louis
FSI was founded by David Keske, who began his career in technical service at Olin. “My father, with great assistance from my mother, authored the manual for the Olin Auto-Froth Gun,” according to his son.
After transitioning to sales, David Keske spotted a market opportunity when Olin decided to only sell directly to large accounts. David Keske began buying in bulk, re-packaging and selling to smaller customers. He soon hired a chemist to reformulate systems when CFC-11 [the main blowing agent at the time] was being phased out. And the business was launched.
Machinery was also part of the mix. “We patented the first air-purge dispensing gun,” said Keske. “It was a very low cost, but reliable, piece of dispensing equipment designed specifically for pour in place rigid foam applications.” FSI is also a GRACO distributor, and has a partnership with SAIP.