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Amine catalyst-free PU system reduces cockpit odor

What’s claimed to be the first viable amine emission-free polyurethane (PU) foam formulation for automotive interior applications has been launched by Dow Automotive Systems (Auburn Hills, MI).

Speflex Activ is said to enable automotive seat pad foamers to meet the most stringent industry requirements, such as the German OEM specifications which include ultra-low emissions, and benefit from outstanding physical and mechanical properties as well as aging and processing advantages.

Traditional PU foams require amine catalysts to promote reaction between polyols and water with the isocyanate component (the gelling and blowing reactions). Until now, these added catalysts have contributed to amine emission issues with polyurethane foams and also negatively impact physical and mechanical properties, particularly after aging and/or narrowing process latitude.

Speflex Activ has been tested and validated in an industrial setting by Faurecia, one of the leaders in automotive seating, at its foam production facility in Magny-Vernois, France.

The new product includes a new Dow Automotive additive polyol with high and specifically balanced catalytic activity. This formulation allows foam manufacturers to eliminate catalysts and amine emissions when manufacturing PU foam. The new additive polyol family also results in an improved processing window and improved aging and mechanical properties of foams made with Speflex Activ.

“It is exciting to launch this new family of additive polyols,” said Dr. Esther Quintanilla, Speflex Activ project lead and EMEA Technical Service and Development for seating foams with Dow Automotive Systems. “This will enable customers to meet the increasingly tighter industry requirements for emission and odor in the car interior with potential across all the polyurethane applications.”

“This advancement demonstrates Dow Automotive material science capabilities that permit customers to fulfill OEM requirements including never seen process capability advantages,” said Marc Poncelet, R&D foam manager at Faurecia Automotive Seating. “This is the first time in the market that seating TDI-based foams can be produced without the use of external catalysts. This is not only unique but represents a true milestone for innovative, very low emissions automotive interior solutions. The concept has been fully validated using a wide range of TDI automotive foam formulations, allowing Faurecia to select the best Speflex Activ applications in both of our R&D and production facilities. This mutual validation work allows us to be ready for an immediate implementation.”

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