Tuesday - April 14, 2015

Bayer MaterialScience develops sustainable cold chain solutions

Polyurethanes ensure reliable food supplies

Microcell insulation system enables even greater energy and cost efficiency

Maastricht, April 14, 2015 – The European Union alone produces around 100 million metric tons of food waste each year, while people in other parts of the world are starving. Polyurethanes play a key role in supplying the world with food. Rigid polyurethane foam is used to insulate around 95 percent of the planet’s refrigerators. This high-performance insulating material can be found throughout the cold chain, ensuring that food products fresh from the field make it to the table without spoiling.

Although an effective cold chain does not solve the problems associated with feeding the human population, it certainly makes a key contribution. Thanks to polyurethanes, today’s A++ refrigerators are now around 60 percent more efficient than the equivalent energy-efficiency class B or C appliances that were the norm 15 years ago. The requirements relating to insulating performance will increase further still in the future. A+++ appliances were launched a few years ago, while energy labels for far lower requirements will gradually become invalid.

Even more efficient refrigerators
Insulating materials are also benefiting from ongoing development. The insulating performance of the Microcell polyurethane system from Bayer MaterialScience is another ten percent more effective than the current standard. This means further energy and cost savings for households and an additional reduction in CO2 emissions – a good example of life cycle thinking.

In order to achieve this, research staff from the company have further reduced the pore diameter of the latest foams by up to 40 percent. “The pores are barely thicker than a human hair, which results in correspondingly low thermal conductivity,” explains Dr. Reinhard Albers from Bayer MaterialScience, an expert in insulating refrigeration equipment. In addition to saving on energy costs, this also helps the environment. Replacing all class B and C refrigeration equipment with modern appliances in energy-efficiency category A++ would reduce annual CO2 emissions in Europe by 22 million metric tons.

While consumers and the authorities are calling for refrigeration equipment with ever higher energy efficiency, the competition is forcing manufacturers to cut costs and improve productivity. Bayer MaterialScience has developed customized product and process engineering solutions with these demands in mind. The Microcell insulating system enables cost-efficient processing using established foam technologies and also features good flow and mold removal properties.

Reliable food supplies in developing countries
In developing countries, half of all food spoils on its way from field to table because it cannot be transported or stored at low temperatures. An efficiently insulated cold chain can make a key contribution to feeding the fast-growing population in many developing countries.

Rigid polyurethane foam plays a major role here – from insulating animal stalls and transporting perishable goods in refrigerated containers to local storage in supermarkets, domestic refrigerators and freezers, and portable cool boxes. For a number of years now, Bayer MaterialScience has been committed to a more efficient and cost-effective cooling chain as a solution to sustainable development in these countries.

In addition to their good insulating performance, polyurethanes are also lightweight, making refrigeration equipment and coolers easy to transport. The combination of low density and a closed-cell structure also results in a favorable insulation-to-material-thickness ratio. This saves space and also delivers impressive energy savings.

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2014 sales of EUR 11.7 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 2014 Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,200 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

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