Open Microcellular Rigid Foams


 Number/Link: WO 2018/162372 (German)

Applicant/Assignee:  Covestro

Publication date: 13 September 2018

Gist”: Rigid foam formulation is blown with supercritical carbondioxide

Why it is interesting: Open-celled rigid polyurethane foams are well known and used in vacuum insulation panels. Theoretically the best thermal insulation is obtained with the smallest cell size. According to this invention microcellular rigid foams with a homogeneous cell structure, more than 90% open cells and an average cell diameter of less than 50μm can be prepared by using a rigid foam formulation containing a cellopener and supercritical carbondioxide and allowing it to react and expand in a closed mould. In an example a rigid foam is produced with a density of 67kg/m³, open cell content of 95% and average cell diameter of 17μm.


Carbon dioxide (P,T) phase diagram (Wikipedia)


TPU Foams


Number/Link: US2017/0174818

Applicant/Assignee: Lubrizol

Publication Date: 22-june-2016 (PCT oct. 2015)

“Gist”: TPUs with specific MW and polydispersity are injection moulded together with cellopener and gas in supercritical state

Why it is interesting: The invention relates to injection moulded “flexible foams”, especially useful for footwear applications. Thermoplastic polyurethanes with a Mw of 120,000 to 500,000 and a dispersity index of 1.85 to 2.51 are foamed using a gaseous blowing agent (CO2 or C1 to C6 hydrocarbons etc. ) together with a cellopener (silicone or EO/PO surfactant), such that at least 50% of cells are open.  In the examples the blowing agent is added in supercritical state to the melt before injection moulding. The type of gas used, nor the densities of the foams are mentioned.  Foaming TPU with gas in supercitical has also been file by Nike as discussed before in this blog.

Nike shoe with foamed thermoplastic midsole


PU Rigid Foams with very Small Cell Size


 Number/Link: WO2015/109488

Applicant/Assignee: Dow

Publication date: 30-07-2015

Gist”: Rigid foams are blown with CO2 under pressure

Why it is interesting: It is known that the thermal conductivity of conventional rigid polyurethane foams can be most efficiently improved by reducing the conductivity contribution of the gas present in the foam cells. This, in turn, can be achieved by reducing the gas pressure, by using ‘heavy’ blowing agents or by reducing the average cell size.  The current application discloses rigid PU foams having cell sizes small enough to achieve a thermal conductivity of less than 16 mW/m.K without the need for a strong vacuum or special blowing agents. This is achieved by first saturating the polyol formulation with CO2 under pressure, then adding the isocyanate and increasing the pressure for a set amount of time and finally releasing the pressure to allow the material to expand. Examples are given using a pressure of 7 MPa at 40°C for 30 minutes to saturate the polyol, and a pressure of 10 MPa for up to about 10 minutes after addition of the isocyanate.  Foams with average cell sizes of 8 to 70 μm and porosities of up to 90% are obtained at densities of about 250 to about 300 kg/m³.  Oddly enough no thermal conductivity (λ) values are given.

Rigid polyurethane insulation foams (Wikimedia)

Rigid polyurethane insulation foams (Wikimedia)