Honeywell Challenges Spray Foam Insulation Contractors and Builders

Honeywell has announced that it will offer U.S. contractors and builders a chance to win prizes if they try spray foam systems that contain Honeywell’s Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent (LBA) as a key ingredient.

Honeywell’s promotion, “Hit A Foam Run” runs now through April 30, 2017. Participants can win prizes each month, and one grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to watch the stars of baseball play in Miami. Spray foam contractors and builders are encouraged to contact one of the spray foam companies participating in the promotion and offering closed-cell spray foam systems containing Solstice LBA. The list of companies offering spray foam systems formulated with Solstice LBA continues to grow.

Some of the systems are designated for wall insulation, others for roofing. Solstice LBA is a material that causes foam to expand and enables its insulating properties.

“We have feedback from many contractors who have already used the new systems,” said Laura Reinhard, global business manager, sprayfoam, Honeywell. “They are surprised that changing the blowing agent can have so many positive effects, such as thermal performance, increased yields, reduced clogging of the spray gun, and a smooth finish, among other improvements. They can experience improvements in foam performance with minimal adjustments to their existing equipment. We encourage contractors to ask their systems providers for spray foam made with Solstice LBA.”

Global regulators are moving to phase out higher-global-warming-potential (GWP) foam blowing agents, refrigerants and other materials based on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) technology. Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published regulations that will phase out the use of many HFC blowing agents. The regulation, some of which becomes effective January 2017, will require manufacturers to discontinue use of many standard HFC blowing agents and blends in certain applications.

Solstice LBA, which is based on hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology, has a GWP of 1, which is 99.9 percent lower than HFC blowing agents it replaces, and equal to carbon dioxide. It is non-ozone-depleting and nonflammable. Solstice LBA has received EPA approval under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, and is volatile organic compound (VOC)-exempt per the EPA. It is also registered under the European Union’s REACH program. Honeywell’s Solstice LBA manufacturing plant in Louisiana started up in May 2014.

Adoption of Solstice products has resulted in the reduction of more than 30 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to date, equal to eliminating emissions from more than 6 million cars. 

Honeywell also manufactures Solstice Gas Blowing Agent, which replaces HFC-134a in low-pressure spray foam insulation, commercial appliance insulation and extruded polystyrene boardstock insulation for homes and buildings.

Solstice LBA is used in a variety of rigid foam insulation applications, including residential and commercial refrigeration equipment, spray foam insulation, and insulated metal panels, as well as flexible foam applications, such as molded and slabstock foam, and integral skin.

White Paper Identifies Appropriate Mean Reference Temperature Ranges and R-values of Polyiso Roof Insulation within this Range

A number of recent articles have explored the relationship between temperature and R-value with an emphasis on the apparent reduction in R-value demonstrated by polyisocyanurate (or polyiso) roof insulation at cold temperatures. The science behind this apparent R-value decrease is relatively simple: All polyiso foam contains a blowing agent, which is a major component of the insulation performance provided by the polyiso foam. As temperatures decrease, all blowing agents will start to condense, and at some point this will result in a marginally reduced R-value. The point at which this occurs will vary to some extent for different polyiso foam products.

a mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F.

A mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F.

Because of this phenomenon, building researchers have attempted to determine whether the nominal R-value of polyiso insulation should be reduced in colder climates. Because of the obvious relationship between temperature and blowing-agent condensation, this certainly is a reasonable area of inquiry. However, before determining nominal R-value for polyiso in colder climates, it is critical to establish the appropriate temperature at which R-value testing should be conducted.

TO DETERMINE the appropriate temperature for R-value testing of polyiso, it is important to review how R-value is tested and measured. Figure 1 provides a simplified illustration of a “hot box” apparatus used to test and measure the R-value of almost all thermal-insulating materials. The insulation sample is placed within the box, and a temperature differential is maintained on opposing sides of the box. To generate accurate R-value information, the temperature differential between the opposing sides of the box must be relatively large—typically no less than 40 F according to current ASTM standards. The results of this type of test are then reported based on the average between these two temperature extremes, which is referred to as mean reference temperature. As shown in Figure 1, a mean reference temperature of 40 F is based on the average between a hot-side temperature of 60 F and a cold-side temperature of 20 F. In a similar manner, a mean reference temperature of 20 F is based on a hot-side temperature of 40 F and a cold-side temperature of 0 F.

NOW THAT we’ve had an opportunity to discuss the details of R-value testing, let’s apply the principles of the laboratory to the real-world situation of an actual building. Just like our laboratory hot box, buildings also have warm and cold sides. In cold climates, the warm side is located on the interior and the cold side is located on the exterior. If we assume that the interior is being heated to 68 F during the winter, what outdoor temperature will be required to obtain a mean reference temperature of 40 F or 20 F? Figure 2 provides a schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

As illustrated in Figure 2, the necessary outdoor temperature needed to attain a 40 F mean reference temperature would be 12 F while an outdoor temperature as low as -28 F would be needed to obtain a 20 F mean reference temperature. And herein lies a glaring problem with many of the articles published so far about the relationship between temperature and R-value. Although a 20 F or 40 F “reference temperature” may sound reasonable for measuring R-value, average real-world conditions required to obtain this reference temperature are only available in the most extreme cold climates in the world. With the exception of the northernmost parts of Canada and the Arctic, few locations experience an average winter temperature lower than 20 F.

schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

A Schematic analysis of the appropriate mean reference temperature.

To help illustrate the reality of average winter temperature in North America, a recent white paper published by the Bethesda, Md.-based Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA), “Thermal Resistance and Temperature: A Report for Building Design Professionals”, which is available at Polyiso.org, identifies these average winter temperatures by climate zone using information from NOAA Historical Climatology studies. As shown in Table 1, page 2, the PIMA white paper identifies that actual average winter temperature varies from a low of 22 F in the coldest North American climate zone (ASHRAE Zone 7) to a high of 71 F in the warmest climate zone (ASHRAE Zone 1).

In addition to identifying a realistic winter outdoor average temperature for all major North American climate zones, Table 1 also identifies the appropriate mean reference temperature for each zone when a 68 F indoor design temperature is assumed. Rather than being as low as 40 F or even 20 F as sometimes inferred in previous articles, this mean winter reference temperature varies from a low of no less than 45 F in the coldest climate zone to above 50 F in the middle climate zones in North America.

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