In industrial and commercial construction, energy efficiency, sustainability and compliance with climate protection targets will become increasingly important alongside cost effectiveness. Rigid polyurethane (PU) foam is a high-performance insulating material, suited for reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions in buildings as well as conserving fossil resources. In German industrial and commercial buildings made of sandwich panels, the insulating material now has an approximate 80% market share.
Sandwich panels consist of two metallic cover layers and a core of polyurethane (PU) or even more fire-resistant polyioscyanurate (PIR) hard foam. “They have been used for many years for large-area and efficient thermal insulation of industrial and commercial buildings and facilitate fast, modular and cost-effective construction of buildings,” said Stefanie Rau, EMEA Marketing Manager, Construction Industry, for materials supplier Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany).
Rigid PU foam is also used in insulation boards. They have flexible covering layers and are used to insulate pitched and flat roofs and floors as well as internal and external walls. “In flat roof applications, they are gaining increasing market share, which is due to their high compressive strength, water resistance and the associated low maintenance costs,” explained Rau. Both products are manufactured in a continuous process on double-belt lines.
For even more sustainable thermal insulation of buildings, Covestro now additionally uses alternative raw materials for its production, also to reduce its own dependence on fossil resources. The company is currently working intensively on a CO2-based raw material for rigid PU foam.
A few years ago, Covestro established a modern technical center for the industrial production of PU foams in order to better align its production to current market requirements. Among other things, the plant includes continuously operating systems for the production of insulation solutions in industrial construction. The goal is to further improve the insulating effect and fire resistance of these products in line with customer requirements and market trends.
With 2017 sales of €14.1 billion ($16.6 billion), Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 30 production sites worldwide, said the company. 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 company serves a variety of markets including the automotive, construction, electrical and electronics.