"Polyurethanes Technical Conference" shows more sustainable alternatives for polyurethane industry

On 1 - 3 October 2018, the 61st annual "Polyurethanes Technical Conference" was held in Atlanta, U. S., organized by the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI). It is the longest-running polyurethanes conference in North America, which offers the unique convergence of industry expertise, professional networking, and regulatory insight. Besides technical and poster sessions, also an exhibition took place, to provide producers, users and applicators from the polyurethane sector with information about new developments, trends and regulations.

As polyurethanes are used in a variety of different industries, including transportation, construction and consumer applications, flame retardants are needed to protect people against fire and to fulfil regulatory requirements.

This year the focus of the conference was on sustainability and occupational safety. Especially bio-based raw-materials were of interest, to handle our limited resources responsibly. For example important raw materials for polyurethanes, like polyols, can be made of soybean oil, lignin or even spent coffee grounds. With the focus on the last topic Troy Polymers, Inc. and Ford Motor Company presented a poster. One of the key messages was that 6.26 million tons of spent coffee grounds residue are left worldwide and that about 50% is a readily available industrial waste, which could be used for sustainable polyol production.

In addition to sustainability, occupational safety was also an important topic, especially for human health. For example Huntsman gave information about occupational safety at their booth.

Moreover, the safety of end-users remains at the forefront. More stringent regulations with regards to emissions (volatile organic compounds = VOC and fogging = substances, which can condense and collect on cold surfaces) are especially seen in the automotive industry. The used materials are not allowed to lead to additional exposure to chemicals for end-users, which could potentially harm their health.

With regards to this topic, especially the use of flame retardants is of great interest. . For example Clariant informed about solutions which allow meeting stringent flame retardant, emission and migration requirements, without adding risks for environment, health and safety. In addition, Lanxess and FRX Polymers gave updates on their latest developments. To sum up, the event gave a good overview of the current and new, more sustainable approaches for polyurethane industry.