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Sustainable Feedstock Based Rigid PU Foam Cryogenic Thermal Insulation

Wednesday (07.10.2020)
17:40 - 18:00 Room 1
Part of:

Rigid polyurethane (PU) foam due to its high mechanical, thermal, chemical stability as well as low thermal conductivity is applied in various industries, such as automotive, civil engineering and refrigerator appliances. Furthermore, it is effective cryogenic insulation material which is applied in the aerospace industry, liquefied gas transportation and will be potentially used in the hydrogen fuel cells and superconductors [1]. Unfortunately, the majority of rigid PU foam raw materials are still produced from petrochemical feedstock. European community as one of its priorities has set forth the goal to move to post-petroleum society, which means that polymer raw materials have to be replaced with more sustainable feedstock.

Raw materials used for rigid PU foam cryogenic thermal insulation production are similar to ones used for a typical rigid PU foam thermal insulation. Nevertheless, rigid PU foam application at various liquefied gas temperatures (-253 to -162 °C) brings with it several engineering challenges. Currently, rigid PU foam cryogenic insulation is solely produced from petrochemical feedstock. Thus bio-based cryogenic insulation materials are innovation on a global level as very little to no research is carried out in this topic. The use of sustainable and renewable resources from agricultural and forest industry could allow to obtain materials with competitive price in comparison to their petrochemical counterpart and would shift Europe closer to ecologically sustainable industrial development [2].

Several bio-based polyols with various functionality and reactivity were used to develop PU polymer matrix with molecular weight in-between cross links Mc from 517–702 g/mol to ensure flexibility of the material at cryogenic temperatures [3]. Rigid PU foams were produced in an open-top mould and their apparent density (ISO 845), compression strength (ISO 844), thermal conductivity (ISO 8301), closed cell content (ISO 4590) and K3 safety coefficient were measured. Furthermore, rigid PU foam compression and tensile strength were measured at liquefied nitrogen temperature to access their viability as cryogenic thermal insulation. Developed material showed promising results for cryogenic insulation application as the thermal conductivity was as low as 17–18 mW/m∙K.

Mikelis Kirpluks
Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry
Additional Authors:
  • Raimonds Grube
    Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry
  • Aiga Ivdre
    Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry
  • Dr. Ugis Cabulis
    Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry