Cargill has broken ground on a US$ 22-million BiOHTM brand polyols manufacturing plant in Chicago. The new production facility will be the first world-scale biobased polyols plant. Expected to be operational in November, the new plant will produce Cargill’s BiOH soybean-based polyols – an ingredient that replaces petroleum-based chemicals traditionally used in polyurethane products, such as flexible foam cushioning for furniture, bedding and automotive products.
Since going commercial with BiOH polyols in 2005, Cargill has been serving customers primarily through a toll-processing capability. The biobased product’s success required expanding production capabilities at a Cargill site in Brazil in September 2007. The new manufacturing plant in Chicago will make available a much larger supply of BiOH polyols as a viable raw material option for Cargill’s growing customer base in North America and Europe.
“Only two years ago we committed to building a world-class renewable polyols business and to bring a more responsible option to the industry,” said Yusuf Wazirzada, business unit leader for Cargill Biobased Polyurethanes. “We are rapidly delivering on that promise, first by opening a world-class research facility and now by constructing a world-scale manufacturing plant. I would like to thank our customers for giving us their business and enabling us to make this decision. We are successful if they are successful, and we will continue to innovate and invest to bring them best-in-class bio-based products.”
Cargill’s BiOH polyols provide a responsible choice in raw materials for furniture cushioning, bedding foams, automotive seats, and building insulation. A preliminary life cycle analysis indicates that manufacturing BiOH polyols results in 36-percent less global-warming emissions and requires 61-percent less non-renewable energy than traditional petroleum-based polyols. In fact, one of the greatest energy sources required to make BiOH polyol products is the solar energy used to grow the soybeans. For every 1 million pounds of BiOH polyols that replace petroleum polyols, 2,200 barrels of crude oil are saved.
Businesses currently using this product in their soybean-based foam cushioning include furniture companies such as Lane, Klaussner, LEE Industries, Norwalk, Bauhaus, and Precedent, sold through leading retailers such as Crate & Barrel, Macys and Norwalk- The Furniture Idea. Eco Platinum Plus carpet cushion sold through Home Depot is made with BiOH polyols. In the automotive sector, BiOH materials will be in the seats of the 2009 Ford Escape.
BiOH polyols can deliver unique performance benefits when used in flexible foam applications, including consistent product quality, low odor, superior load-bearing capabilities and more. Given that the global polyurethane market for polyols is greater than 10 billion pounds, BiOH polyols can have a significant impact on reducing crude oil consumption while using only a small percentage of global vegetable oil stocks.
Cargill’s BiOH products have gained widespread recognition since becoming the first commercially successful biobased polyol in polyurethane foam cushioning. The technology won the 2007 President’s Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Society of Plastic’s Engineers named BiOH Polyols best Emerging Technology at its 2007 Environmental Stewardship Awards. And BiOH polyols captured the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry’s 2006 Technology Innovation Award.
Source: Cargill, press release, 2008-07-08.