Manufacturers of polyurethane (PU) materials are under increasing pressure to create additives which enable high quality production with fewer environmental emissions.

One such company that appears to be leading the way is Air Products. The North American industrial gas firm has recently developed low emission non-fugitive catalysts. These catalysts are designed specifically for application in the automotive and slabstock sectors.

Steve Hulme, Global Marketing Manager of PU Chemicals at Air Products explained some of the challenges involved in the hunt: “When developing low emission catalysts, the biggest challenge has been to fulfill the physical property standards of flexible foams used in automotive seating, in particular to meet properties after humid aging of the foam.”

According to Air Products, demand for non-emission catalyst technology has spread globally in the past decade and this is expected to continue. Steve Hulme added, “Initial interest in non-fugitive catalyst technology came from the European automotive industry, but this has since spread to flexible stabstock and rigid foams. We are now seeing an increased demand for this advanced technology from furniture and bedding producers in Asia, for example, which are supplying markets in the EU and US.”

In Europe, Air Products is launching two next generation non-emission catalysts at UTECH 2012, Dabco® NE1090 and Dabco BA305. Both these new products have been designed specifically to produce non-emission molded TDI foam that can meet the humid age specification that is required by automotive OEMs.

“The technology will close a gap that foam manufacturers have been looking for since many years”, explained Steve Hulme, “and will be another milestone in 50 years of Air Products´ catalyst developments for the polyurethane industry”. New catalysts and surfactants for rigid and flexible foam applications will also be showcased.