Polyurethane Foam: HCFC Replacement Responsibility

As the industry with the most HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) applications in China, the phase-out HCFC phase-out plan for the first phase of the polyurethane foam industry has basically been completed and acceptance by all project companies will be completed within the year. Then, what is the phase II phase-out plan for the industry? What are the promotion policies and technical support? Recently, the Polyurethane Products Special Committee of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association held the 2018 Polyurethane Foam Industry Development Forum held in Guilin to discuss the above issues.

The polyurethane foam industry mainly uses HCFC-141b (fluoro-dichloroethane) as a blowing agent. According to the consensus reached by the 2007 Conference of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, China will complete the phase-out of HCFC production and consumption in all manufacturing industries by 2030.

Sun Bo, Division III of the Environmental Protection Foreign Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said that at present, the phase-out HCFC phase-out plan for the first phase of the polyurethane foam industry has basically been completed. The main choice of cyclopentane and all-water foam technology to replace HCFC-141b has been eliminated. There were 57 contracts and 12,956 tons of HCFC-141b were phased out. Among them, 17 companies chose full-water foaming technology, and 40 companies chose cyclopentane foaming technology. Up to now, the acceptance of 36 projects has been completed and all project acceptance will be completed within the year.

It is understood that in December 2016, the phase-out of the second phase of the HCFC phase-out plan for the polyurethane foam industry was approved, setting out an action guideline for phase-out of HCFCs across the industry. The plan integrates national performance targets, the status of China's polyurethane foam industry, and the maturity of alternative technologies, and adopts an accelerated, phased elimination strategy - a 30% reduction in 2018, a 45% reduction in 2020, and a complete phase-out in 2026.

As the world’s largest producer, exporter and user of HCFCs, the follow-up phase-out in China still faces many challenges. “This requires relevant departments and industries to take active actions to participate in all aspects of alternative renovation projects, technology research and promotion, policy and regulation formulation, and monitoring of phase-out outcomes, so as to ensure the fulfillment of compliance targets on schedule and promote the technological upgrading of industry enterprises and green sustainability. Development," Sun Bo said.

Sun Bo said that the Phase II phase-out plan will draw on the implementation policies and management measures of the first phase and sign the HCFC phase-out contract with polyurethane foam enterprises that meet the requirements through public solicitation and expert review, and support them through Multilateral Fund grants. Perform the necessary equipment and safety modifications and use zero ODP (ozone depletion potential) and low GWP (global warming potential) technologies to replace the HCFC-141b foaming agent. At the same time, the innovative project implementation model is to link the upstream and downstream industries through issuing tickets, and to fund the transformation of standard foaming equipment for SMEs and the procurement of raw materials.

Sun Bo said that the phase-out plan for phase-out of HCFCs for polyurethane foams will introduce a series of policy measures, including progress in the implementation of industry plans, policy evaluations, timely promulgation of prohibitions on the use of HCFCs as blowing agents in the polyurethane foam industry, and timely updates. Release HCFC alternative technology guides, alternatives recommended catalogs, and combine the future development of alternative technologies, timely update the recommended catalogs; evaluate and scrutinize industry technical standards, address different requirements for foam product performance in different application areas, test methods, etc. To revise and formulate related standards; to strengthen the record management and daily supervision of the use and sales of HCFCs by local environmental protection agencies, and to strengthen inspection and law enforcement.

In addition, during the execution of the phase-out plan, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s External Cooperation Center will design and carry out various forms of technical assistance activities to provide technical support for the smooth implementation of HCFC phase-out, regular assessment of alternative technology development, and alternative technologies. Conduct further optimization studies, including research on raw material system formulas, production processes, and equipment, provide technical guidance for SMEs, and promote their technological transformation.

Cao Yu, vice chairman of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association, told reporters that the application of polyurethane rigid foam was affected by the immature replacement technology of HCFC-141b. China Plastics Industry Association will actively cooperate with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment's Foreign Cooperation Center to ensure the smooth realization of the HCFC consumption phase-out target; encourage enterprises to carry out phase-out activities and adopt climate-friendly alternative technologies; encourage the promotion of appropriate alternative technologies and promote the development and promotion of suitable technologies. Ensure that the development of related industries is not affected.

At the meeting, several experts introduced the latest developments in HCFC alternative technologies such as cyclopentane foaming and new CO2-assisted foam spraying. Among them, the professor of Shandong University of Science and Technology Bi Yuyan first disclosed the molecular structure and application effect of the new chemical foaming agent jointly developed by Shandong University of Technology and Butian New Materials.

According to Bi Yuxi, the new chemical foaming agent has the characteristics of safety, environmental protection, no emission of VOCs, ODP of 0, and GWP of 1. At present, the new foaming agent has been successfully applied in the fields of cold storage, construction, pipeline spraying, household appliances, door industry, insulation panels and other fields. It completely replaces foam materials with chlorofluorocarbon physical foaming agents, and has key technical indicators such as thermal insulation performance and dimensional stability. Meet the application requirements.

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