News Analysis

New Chemical to Reduce Climate Impact of Foam Insulation

New blowing agents will reduce the global warming potential of SPF, XPS, and the rigid polyurethane foam used in appliances.

Honeywell has introduced two new blowing agents that could dramatically reduce the global warming potential (GWP) of a variety of foam insulation types. Marketed under the brand name Solstice, they are designed to be “drop-in” substitutes for blowing agents currently used to manufacture insulation for both buildings and appliances, including extruded polystyrene and closed-cell polyurethane foams.

Both chemicals have zero ozone-depletion potential and a GWP of 7, meaning that when they are released into the atmosphere their potency is seven times that of CO2 . While that may sound high, the chemicals they replace can have a GWP of hundreds or thousands. Since insulation reduces fossil fuel use, a GWP of 7 results in a very short global-warming payback time (see “Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation,” EBN June 2010).

Published November 29, 2011