Monday - December 1, 2014

Trending: Further improvement in the thermal insulation of refrigerators and insulating boards

Even greater energy savings with Bayer polyurethanes

New technical center enables rapid development of products and processes

Leverkusen, December 1, 2014 – Refrigerators are responsible for roughly one-fifth of the total energy consumed in modern private households. Lowering this energy consumption would cut costs for consumers and contribute to climate protection. This development is also being driven by stricter regulatory controls on energy consumption and increased environmental awareness among consumers.

Industry is therefore working flat out to further improve the energy efficiency of refrigerators. Thermal insulation is the key. Since the beginning of the 1960s, rigid polyurethane foam has proved to be the most effective insulating material. Meanwhile, both the product and the production technology have been continuously improved. Today’s economical refrigerators with an energy efficiency rating of A++ and higher are made using rigid foam in combination with vacuum insulated panels, which makes production relatively expensive.

As well as increased energy efficiency, manufacturers therefore are looking for better cost efficiency in refrigerator production. Baytherm® Microcell, a rigid polyurethane foam insulating system from Bayer MaterialScience, can be processed using established foaming technologies and satisfies the demands of the appliances industry for greater cost and energy efficiency.

The new insulating system boasts even lower thermal conductivity than conventional foams and supports the production of refrigerators with even higher energy efficiency ratings. The improved insulation values are linked to the foam’s pore size: The smaller the diameter of the pores, the lower the thermal conductivity. “In formulations containing Baytherm® Microcell, the pore size can be reduced by 40 percent compared with existing technologies,” explains Dr. Reinhard Albers, an expert for technical insulation at Bayer MaterialScience. “We have thus reached a key milestone on the path to nanofoam.” The other foam properties are equivalent to those of conventional grades. The product also exhibits excellent flow behavior and can be removed quickly from the mold.

Modern facility for optimizing energy efficiency and production processes
Baytherm® Microcell also plays an important role at Bayer MaterialScience’s new Polyurethanes Technical Center. The Technical Insulation Center there is dedicated to optimizing the production of insulating elements in line with current customer requirements and market trends. Besides refrigerators, the center focuses primarily on insulating elements for applications in the cold chain and piping insulation for district heating. Batch processes are used for all of these applications.

The components are fed through a robot-controlled mixing head. This enables fast and precise metering so new developments require less time. The main objective is to further improve insulating properties by exploring new product solutions and innovative processing technologies. Another aim is to increase productivity in refrigerator manufacturing and test new blowing agents.

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2013 sales of EUR 11.2 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. At the end of 2013, Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,300 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

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