Healthy Climate

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New DuPont Building Sealing and Insulation Technology Significantly Reduces GHG Emissions

Sustainability Challenge:

Building sealant and insulation spray polyurethane foam products traditionally have relied on certain hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) technologies as blowing agents that are considered potent greenhouse gases.

Chemistry Solution:

New advances in low-pressure spray polyurethane foam technology by DuPont use hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agents combined with CO2 to deliver significant GHG emission reductions while enhancing performance of building insulation and sealant products.

Sustainability Benefit:

The combination of HFOs with CO2 delivers a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the blowing agent package used in low-pressure spray PU foam sealants and insulation that is reduced by more than 99 percent compared to current formulations, leading to a significant reduction in GHG emissions across the product’s lifecycle.

As society focuses on driving climate action in the near term through bolder greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets, and the building industry works to develop products with lower embodied carbon while continuing to address operational carbon through building energy efficiency, there is a demand for product solutions to help meet those goals. Insulation and sealant products are a critical component in constructing buildings that can help conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions.

While many polyurethane (PU) spray foam sealant and insulation products have traditionally relied on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-based blowing and frothing agents to dispense spray foam materials, certain HFCs are considered to be potent greenhouse gases.

Newer hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agents generally have a much lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) and have been proposed as reduced-GHG replacements. However, shifting use of blowing agents could potentially impact the long-term performance of sealants and insulation, creating a challenge for application of spray PU foam in building products.

To address this challenge, DuPont reformulated its Froth-PakTM Spray Foam, low-pressure two-component PU products, which help achieve reduced GHG emissions while maintaining product performance. This is made possible by pairing the new liquid HFO with carbon dioxide (CO2), which reduces the GWP of the blowing agent package used in the product from approximately 1,300 kilograms of CO2-equivalent per kilogram of blowing agent, to less than 10 – a reduction of more than 99 percent. DuPont’s annual environmental impact from this blowing agent change is estimated at one million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year of production, equivalent to avoiding the emissions from roughly 200,000 cars driven each year.1

DuPont Froth Pak 1These products also are created to be durable and last the lifetime of the building, potentially extending energy savings for periods of 50 years or more, while concurrently improving the holistic building structure to help prevent moisture intrusion, improve indoor air quality and create a more comfortable space for building occupants.

Further, DuPont is sourcing the CO2 used in Froth-PakTM Spray Foams from an ethanol by-product source, and produces the Froth-Pak™ Spray Foam products with 100 percent renewable electricity through purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates.

Froth-Pak™ Spray Foam Insulation and Sealant are commercially available as of May 2021 and meet the latest International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) guidance. DuPont is partnering with partners in the United States to provide wide access to these products to professional contractors and also is working with the National Association of Home Builders and production builders to incorporate air sealing and energy efficient design options into planned communities and projects.

1 As estimated using the US EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

Celanese Ethylene-Based VAM Technology Helps China Facility Reduce Its Carbon Footprint

Sustainability Challenge:

Chemical manufacturing facilities are working to identify processes and technologies to help reduce energy and water usage and lower carbon emissions.

Chemistry Solution:

Celanese uses an ethylene-based process to produce vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) that reduces use of energy and water and lowers carbon emissions.

Sustainability Benefit:

Lowering energy consumption, water use and carbon emissions in manufacturing facilities is a critical element in efforts to combat climate change.

Celanese has taken strategic steps to help lower its environmental footprint in China, reducing carbon emissions and energy and water use, through its ethylene-based Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) technology.

Celanese VAMVAM is used as an intermediate to manufacture industrial polymers and resins for paper coatings, water-based paints, adhesives, films, textiles and other end products.  Today in China, only 21 percent of VAM technology is ethylene based, and demand for VAM is anticipated to increase to around 0.18 million metric tons over the next five years.

Use of ethylene-based VAM technology at Celanese’s plant in Nanjing to replace traditional VAM technology is having positive environmental impacts, reducing carbon emissions and energy and water use. The ethylene-based VAM technology uses 20 percent less steam, 70 percent less cooling water and 11 percent less electricity than the prior technology.  In addition, carbon emission per ton of ethylene-based VAM production is approximately 37 percent lower than the former process. From 2017 to 2019, Celanese’s Nanjing VAM production unit has reduced energy intensity by 7.5 percent and GHG emissions by 7.3 percent.

Ethylene-based VAM technology also produces fewer types and quantities of impurities than the traditional VAM, typically used in downstream applications such as coating and food packaging.

In 2020, Celanese’s ethylene-based VAM technology received designation as a Green Technology in China for its low carbon emissions, low energy consumption, low content of heavy components and high product quality.  The China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation, representing Chinese national chemical manufacturing companies, announced this designation in its Directory for Petrochemical Green Technology, which helps guide Chinese government and financial institutions in making technology and policy decisions.

Hexion Waterborne Epoxy Resins Help Reduce VOC Emissions

Sustainability Challenge:

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from the use of solvents in paints and coatings contributes to air quality issues, particularly in large urban areas.

Chemistry Solution:

Hexion developed a new waterborne epoxy resin to help reduce VOCs throughout the value chain.

Sustainability Benefit:

By manufacturing lower VOC products, Hexion reduces hazardous waste output, regulatory burden, nuisance odor, flammability and air emissions throughout the value chain, providing an overall reduction in global warming potential.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from the use of solvents in paints and coatings contributes to air quality issues, particularly in large urban areas.

Several years ago, Hexion Inc., began to develop waterborne epoxy resin systems. Although Hexion recognized the potential environmental, safety and overall sustainability benefits such systems could have that some traditional solvent-based systems might not, the market was initially hesitant about performance, and it was sometimes challenging to generate customer interest.

Stacked shipping containersHexion decided to change its approach by first identifying sustainability mega-trends that could drive lower VOC content, and then using that to identify a market segment that would likely be first to see the pressure from that trend.

Hexion identified the Chinese shipping container manufacturing segment as one that would likely be under pressure to reduce VOC emissions, due to significant smog and air quality issues in China and the fact that 98 percent of the world’s shipping containers are manufactured and coated in China. Hexion joined an industry consortium in China to educate the marketplace and government officials about the performance and sustainability attributes of waterborne coatings technology. The Chinese government responded by changing regulations to require lower-VOC coatings.

The application of waterborne epoxy resins in the Chinese shipping container market has helped China to realize a tangible improvement in air quality, while also helping to enhance worker safety.

The use and manufacture of waterborne resins provides sustainability benefits throughout the value chain. By manufacturing lower-VOC products, Hexion reduces hazardous waste output and air emissions in its operations, providing an overall reduction in global warming potential, as well as lowering the risk of fire by eliminating flammable solvents and enabling easier and safer clean-up.

Chemours Refrigerant Helps Reduce Global Warming Potential

Sustainability Challenge:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other chemical compounds in common refrigerants are known to have a negative effect on the environment and contribute to global warming.

Chemistry Solution:

Chemours’ line of hydrofluoro olefin (HFO)-based, low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants uses less energy and contributes to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability Benefit:

A transition from HFC-based refrigerant technologies to HFO-based, low-GWP alternatives over the next three years could help prevent up to 200 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050.

The Chemours Company’s breakthrough refrigerant, Opteon™, uses hydrofluoro olefin (HFO)-based refrigerant technology, which has very low global warming potential (GWP) and zero ozone depletion potential (ODP), as an alternative to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) for essential air conditioning and refrigeration technology.

A difference in chemistry makes a big difference in global warming potential. Opteon’s HFO refrigerant can have a GWP that can be 99 percent less than other refrigerants. HFO refrigerants also break down faster in the environment, while HFCs can persist in the atmosphere for years.

Chemours Video Still 2The benefits of HFO-based refrigerants like Opteon™ contribute to everyday living, from food preservation to keeping vehicles cool and comfortable, in an environmentally sustainable way. Chemours has estimated that, by the end of 2019, the replacement of legacy mobile refrigerants with HFO technology like Opteon™ will have resulted in a reduction of nearly 68 million tons of CO2, equivalent to taking approximately 15 million cars off the road. By the end of 2020, that number is expected to grow to 96 million tons, equivalent to approximately 21 million cars off the road.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that production of food needing refrigeration will need to increase by 70 percent globally to feed an additional 2.3 billion people by 2050. As companies around the world expand their use of sustainable refrigerants from cars to data centers to supermarkets and hospitals, the positive environmental and societal impact of Opteon™ low GWP refrigerants could grow exponentially.

According to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, if the transition from HFC-based refrigerant technologies to HFO-based, low GWP alternatives continues over the next three years, it could prevent up to 200 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2050. This one step alone could have a big environmental impact, potentially lowering the predictable global temperature rise by 0.5ºC by 2100.

Covestro Transforming Carbon Dioxide into Raw Material for Flexible Foam

Sustainability Challenge:

Non-renewable petrochemical feedstocks are used as a carbon source to produce high-performance polymers.

Chemistry Solution:

Technology developed by Covestro captures carbon dioxide from industrial sources and transforms it into a raw material for flexible foam.

Sustainability Benefit:

Alternative carbon sources for raw materials can lead to future advances in conserving nonrenewable petrochemical feedstocks.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the primary greenhouse gases emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere and a main factor of global warming. It also contains carbon, an important building block for chemicals. For nearly half a century, scientists have sought to capture CO2 and transform it from an inert pollutant into commercially viable products that can drive growth and innovation.

Scientists at Covestro have developed a breakthrough technology – a catalyst that makes it possible to harness waste CO2 and convert it into a precursor for flexible polyurethane foam.

In 2016, Covestro opened a production facility in Germany that sources waste CO2 gas from an adjacent power plant and uses it to manufacture a CO2-based polyol – branded cardyon® – to make flexible foam found in everyday products, like mattresses and furniture.

CardyonThe CO2 content in the cardyon® polyol grades is currently up to 20 percent. Not only is the resulting foam comparable to conventional foam, but the production footprint is actually lower, since less solvent and energy are required to produce cardyon®.

Currently, cardyon® polyol is commercially available on the European market. Covestro plans to expand its portfolio of CO2-based polyols for use in rigid and thermoplastic polyurethanes and coatings that can be used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer goods.

Cracking the catalytic barrier needed to convert CO2 into a raw material has opened a world of low-carbon, energy-saving possibilities. Covestro and its research partners are studying catalysis with other C1 molecules, like methane and carbon monoxide, to develop sustainable solutions for organic intermediates and polymeric materials.


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