By Liz White, UT editor
Salt Lake City,Utah--Dow Polyurethanes plans to take its work on natural oil polyols (NOPs) to the next level and set up a plant for market-scale production of NOPs based on soya, the group announced 25 Sept.
"We have been working very hard on natural oil-based polyols," said Doug Warner, global business direcetor for polyols with Dow Polyurethanes, adding that Dow has taken a different approach to other companies working in this area.
They have "taken soya oil and built a polyol from it," Warner said. "We've taken the natural oil and broken it down into its structural parts and reassembled it," he explained, in a 26 Sept interview during the meeting of the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This means the polyol is not dependent on the grade of soya oil used, and is a much more consistent product than other soya-based polyols, he continued. Dow is offering these products in blends with oil-based polyols at 30 to 70 percent, and the "finished polyol is a blend that outperforms polyols today," Warner added.
Dow is not aiming for a cheap alternative," but for a high "value proposition and unique performance," he went on, saying Dow is not looking only at green credentials, but for performance attributes.
"As a company, this enables us to spread the risk away from petroleum-based products," Warner said, adding that the NOP production is "less capital intensive than a propylene oxide-based polyol plant."
The new NOP unit being built in Texas is large enough for the full-scale process, he added.
In a technical presentation at the meeting, Dow Chemical Co.'s David Babb said in recent trials the company had made 108 000 lbs of monomer and produced 140 000 lbs of polyol, and this process had been repeated.
Dow then took this polyol into full scale commercial trials on Maxfoam equipment to make conventional slabstock foam at 15-45 kg/s.m and 30-50 percent NOP, he continued.
The team also made viscoelastic foam at 45-60 kf/sq.m and 50-70 percent NOP, replacing conventional polyether polyols, Babb added, detailing the higher load bearing properties and better whiteness retention of the 20 tonnes of commercial quality foam produced.
Dow will be sampling these products immediately to selected customers, Babb concluded.