Novomer has trialled the materials in rigid applications at the CEPEDA test centre in Tudela, Spain. Waddington explained that the material has been used successfully in flex-faced and rigid panels up to 100mm thick.
Polyols derived from CO2 may represent cutting edge technology at the start of a polyurethane foam’s lifecycle, but increasing interest is being shown in polyurethane recycling. Both Rampf and H&S from Germany have developed technology in this area, and are starting to look at opportunities in post-consumer scrap.
Frank Dursten, director of R&D and sustainability at Rampf Holding, explained how the company’s Eco-Solutions division has been recycling polyurethane and polyesters. It is working with an engineering partner, Keil Anlangenbau, to develop tailor-made PET and PU recycling plants.
However, Rampf also has a polyols materials business, Dursten said. Its range of three product groups include natural polyols. designated NP, which are based on renewable resources such as rapeseed oil.
The company’s Petol range includes polyols based on PET, which are suitable for use in rigid polyurethane and PIR foam applications. And the Recipol range comprises recovered polyols based on polyurethane.
Rampf has also carried out work on novel polymers based on C19 triglycerides. These can be used in the cast polyurethane sector. It is possible to produce cast polyurethanes that offer translucency and good elastic recovery properties, as well as exceptionally good hydrolysis properties, Dursten told the meeting.
He also outlined some of Rampf’s work using bio-based waste streams such as lignin for integral skin foams. These can be produced with a lignin content of between 30 and 50%, give higher Shore hardness and greater tensile strength than other materials. The company has carried out work in this area with the help of funding from the Federal Ministry of Food and agriculture in Germany.
In 2012, Rampf installed what it claims is the first industrial-scale plant to make polyols from PU flexible foam waste. Dursten explained that it was constructed as part of a project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education Research, to develop industrial-scale acidosis for flexible slab stock foams. Rampf has taken part in several collaborative projects to take in-production scrap and convert it into polyols, working with Hennecke, Evonik and Metzler, among others.
Dursten also explained that Rampf has built on its experience with in-process polyurethane scrap, and is now involved in a project to turn bulky waste such as mattresses and furniture foam into high added-value recycled polyol.
The aim of the project, he said, is to synthesise high-quality secondary polyols from post-consumer flexible foam products. It involves an analytical procedure to preselect different foam qualities to ensure consistent product quality of the second piles from batch to batch, and analytical techniques designed to detect toxic substances such as now-banned flame retardants or blowing agents in the post-consumer scrap.
Using post-consumer waste
Lyudmila Skokova from H&S outlined the potential volume of polyurethane raw materials that could be recovered each year from the European mattress and bedding market in her presentation.
Skokova explained that her firm, which installed and in-process polyurethane-to-polyols plant at Dendro’s factory in Poland is, like Rampf, interested in this area. The Polish factory has been up and running for about three years, and is the reference site for H&S’s venture into post-consumer bedding recycling.