A sustainable polyol unit has been brought on stream at the site of IFS Chemicals in Roydon, Norfolk. The unit has been in commercial production for about a month. It is producing a polyol based on rape-seed oil for use in the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foams.
IFS has been introducing the polyol to a number of its long-standing customers producing rigid PU foam for refrigeration and building insulation applications. The introduction has only been underway for a matter of weeks, but what has surprised IFS managing director Dr Barrie Colvin is that his customers are reporting that their end-users have already started to specify sustainable products.
The polyol is being manufactured from unrefined rape-seed oil manufactured from crops grown by local farmers in East Anglia. The plant has a capacity of 6t/day, although Colvin says it is only working at 50% of its capability at present.
IFS sustainable polyols are priced exactly the same as their conventional oil-based equivalents. They are used in exactly the same way and in the same quantity, but, explains Colvin, getting the right formulation is the key to their success in producing good quality foams.
IFS has had the technology to produce polyols from natural oils for some ten years, but previously there was little interest in the UK. However, it has supplied polyol manufacturing units to India, Malaysia and Brazil that are located close to local markets for sunflower, coconut and soya bean oils, respectively.
“Following the same principle,” says Colvin, “it seemed logical to develop a polyol plant here in East Anglia where there is a ready supply of rape close to our Roydon factory.”
Colvin believes that IFS will soon need to start planning to construct a larger manufacturing unit at Roydon, particularly as the company is now using the rape-seed-based polyol in all its own customised formulations for production of rigid PU foams.
Source: prw.com, 2007-05-10., 2007-05-16.