New restrictions set to be introduced in Asia restricting permissable levels of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions in vehicle interiors are behind the development of an amines emission-free polyurethane (PU) foam formulation for automotive interior applications by Dow Automotive Systems (Auburn Hills, MI). More details in this development have now emerged from a Tier I that will be the first to employ the foam in its products.
Faurecia, the world's sixth-largest automotive supplier, says the new type of TDIfoam for vehicle seats that it has developed jointly with Dow Automotive Systems "eliminates 99% of volatile amines emissions which concur to a reduction of global VOCemissions by 60%, while improving seating comfort, a breakthrough solution in the current automotive seating industry." Volatile amines can have a harmful impact on the health of passengers, produce an intensely unpleasant odor inside the vehicle and cause windshield fogging.
The Faurecia volatile amines-free foam pads, employing Dow's Speflex Activ polyurethane solution, will begin to be used soon by French automakers. Other premium automakers in Europe are also currently investigating the new Faurecia foam.
While the foam's initial use plan is in rear backrests, it is appropriate for use in backrests and cushions in rear and front seats alike
Automakers use either of two types of polyurethane foam to provide padding for seats: MDI or TDI, each of which provides different levels of density to meet the varying specifications of vehicle models. Until now, these products have incorporated amines as catalysts to promote gelling and blowing reactions that create polyurethane foam. Amines, however, are one of the major sources of VOCs and also can affect the mechanical properties of seating pads. The new foams from Faurecia do not require any external amines catalysts.
|Seat form formulation goes amines-free|
Faurecia submitted its new foams to an independent lab for testing, where results demonstrated that the new material's composition eliminated as much as 99 percent of volatile amines emissions, compared with previous TDI pads. The Faurecia low-VOC TDI foam pads thus become the world's first to achieve a nearly total elimination of volatile amines emissions.
In addition to providing a healthier environment inside the vehicle, the Faurecia volatile amines-free foam reportedly improves passengers comfort while the vehicle is in motion. Compared to current TDI foams, the new Faurecia pad is said to be more responsive, returning quickly to its original shape after being subjected to deformation pressures. The foam supports the occupant's body comfortably, responding especially well when it is needed for support.
The new foam also reportedly performs better than previous TDI products with regards to vibrations that originate from tires, vehicle structures and road conditions, with a lower resonance frequency that makes vibrations less perceptible to occupants. Additionally, it is more durable than other pads, especially in humid environments.
"Our volatile amines-free TDI foam pad is the first of its kind, eliminating external catalysts and their emissions from the production process while improving mechanical properties of the seat" said Marc Poncelet, Director R&D Foam & Accessories, Faurecia Automotive Seating.
Faurecia will start to produce its volatile amines-free TDI foam pad in foam densities ranging from 45 to 55 kilograms per cubic meter at its facility in Magny-Vernois, France. The company anticipates that the new foam will help automakers meet impending restrictions on global VOC emissions in Asia: in particular in China, Japan and South Korea as well as help to forestall interior emissions in vehicles all across the globe.