As the polyurethane foam industry progressively explores its options in sustainability, Momentive Performance Materials has collaborated with Cargill on the development of a new and unique surfactant that can enable foam manufacturers to supply flexible foam with increased renewable content to foam fabricators and producers of home furnishings and bedding.
Momentive’s Niax silicone L-670 surfactant allows for the increased use of natural oil-based polyols (NOPs) in foam production. By using Niax L-670 in conjunction with Cargill’s renewable, soybean oil-based BiOH® polyols, foam manufacturers can reduce their use of petroleum-based polyols. Polyols constitute the main ingredient in flexible foam used in upholstered furniture cushioning, mattresses and pillows, and other consumer products.
“Working with a visionary leader like Cargill demonstrates how the sustainability strategies of suppliers and their customers can be integrated to produce meaningful results,” said Tony Lanchak, Global Business Director, Urethane Additives, Momentive. “Nothing is more gratifying than focusing our ability to innovate on helping customers in their initiatives to improve the environmental impact of everyday products. It is also a matter of pride that, as the company which brought the first non-hydrolyzable silicone surfactant for polyurethane foams to market, we should be the first to introduce this important new surfactant as well.”
Renewable, soy-based polyols replace a portion of the petroleum polyols from which polyurethane foam is traditionally made. The percentage of soy content depends on the type of foam and how it is manufactured. Lowering the percentage of petroleum components can be positive for the environment by reducing the potential for petroleum hydrocarbons and reducing dependence on crude oil. For every 1 million pounds of Cargill BiOH® polyols used in furniture and mattresses, for example, more than 92,000 gallons of petroleum are saved.
“As the leading producer of natural oil polyols to the flexible foam industry, we are committed to offering customers products that have a smaller environmental footprint,” said Yusuf Wazirzada, Business Unit Leader, Cargill Biobased Polyurethanes. “Our collaboration with Momentive is an important step in decreasing the industry’s dependence on petroleum-based polyols and developing higher performing products. By developing technology that pushes the limits of what is possible, Momentive is helping us meet the customer need for foam products that are focused on the exciting new consumer trend around sustainability.”
In addition to increasing foam’s renewable content by up to 30 percent over current incorporation levels, replacement of the standard silicone surfactant with Niax L-670 surfactant in formulations using NOPs can result in enhanced foam properties and processing, including improved IFD (measurement of foam hardness) and compression set (measurement of permanent deformation of foam) values and greater elongation, tensile and tear strength. The surfactant achieves this by increasing the compatibility of natural oil-based and petroleum-based polyols in foam formulations. Moreover, as a Flame Retardant (FR) surfactant, Niax L-670 surfactant can help foam manufacturers achieve cost savings by reducing the amount of FR additive required to pass flammability tests.