The US Environmental Protection Agency's 19 March 2007 ruling that it is bringing forward its phase out of the foam blowing agent HCFC-22 (hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22) has prompted suppliers in the PU sector to come up with advice on alternatives.
Bowing agent supplier Arkema has produced information on use of its Transcend blowing agent to replace HCFC-22, while Bayer AG recently held a web seminar to encourage and help users to reformulate.
Phase out for HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b in uses in commercial refrigeration, sandwich panels, slabstock, and 'other' rigid polyurethane foams ('pour foam' uses) will now be bought forward to 1 March 2008, while in marine foam uses the deadline is 1 Sept 2008, according to the EPA. Makers of extruded polystyrene foam who use these materials have until 1 Jan 2010 to discontinue their use.
In its recent ruling on HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b, originally scheduled to be phased out in 2010, the EPA said that, under an approach to tackling ozone layer damage and other environmental issues called 'Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP)' these two have become unacceptable alternatives to CFCs and HCFC-141b as foam blowing agents.
SNAP aims, where feasible, to bring forward the transition to alternatives and thus help speed up the Montreal Protocol's aims of diminishing ozone layer damage, the EPA indicated. Ultimately the benefits will be reduced levels of skin cancer, cataracts, and other adverse impacts of ozone depletion.
And the agency pointed out that it is "progress within the insulation foam industry on adopting non-ozone depleting chemicals," that has allowed it to issue this amendment. "