XPSA Supports Montreal Protocol Amendment Accelerating HFC Phase-Out

The Extruded Polystyrene Foam Association (XPSA) , whose members include the major extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) insulation manufacturers in North America, has announced its support for the Montreal Protocol amendment hastening the global phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to protect the stratospheric ozone and mitigate the effects of climate change.
 
XPSA has expressed support for both the Montreal Protocol and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, under which XPS manufacturers are transitioning out of using HFC-134a. XPS manufacturers have met or exceeded the timelines set forth and will continue to do so based on science and environmental stewardship. XPSA’s members are committed to eliminating HFCs from their products by the EPA SNAP deadline of January 1, 2021.
 
“The phase-out of HFCs will be a milestone within the XPS industry’s stewardship and sustainability objectives and a progression of our ongoing search for technology improvements to better serve our customers and protect our environment,” said John Ferraro, executive director of XPSA.
 
Replacing HFC-134a requires a reconsideration of the entire chemical makeup of XPS insulation products. The EPA understands that XPS manufacturers need time to identify alternatives to HFC-134a; assess and address risks of alternative components; analyze capabilities and make modifications to equipment, facilities, manufacturing processes, and worker safety and training programs; work with suppliers on equipment and component needs; build and engage in pilot- and plant-scale trials; obtain permits, approvals, and financing; and address commercialization issues such as ensuring production capacity to meet global market demand.
 
XPS’s properties heighten a structure’s energy efficiency, which both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and EPA acknowledge to be one of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction strategies. In fact, ASHREA and XPS industry estimates indicate that homes using XPS insulation sheathing save enough energy in the first year to heat over 500,000 homes in the U.S. XPS reduces GHG emissions by lowering the energy consumption of a structure, which diminishes the amount of energy spent in the distribution of energy, the delivery of which requires 3.34 units of energy to send 1 unit to a building for user consumption. Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) data shows that the reduced energy consumption due to XPS foam pays back the embedded CO2 multiple times over the life of a building.

NCFI Polyurethanes’ Spray Foam Products Use Honeywell’s Low Global-Warming Material

Honeywell has announced that NCFI Polyurethanes has transitioned to Honeywell’s low-global-warming material for roofing applications, with wall insulation systems to follow.

NCFI is offering closed-cell polyurethane spray foam formulated with Honeywell’s Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent (LBA) in roofing products. This offering marks another milestone as NCFI transitions its engineered building products line from hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agents with high global-warming-potential (GWP) to low-GWP products. This includes converting much of its polyurethane product line to Solstice LBA encompassing integral skin and other applications in advance of environmental regulations calling for a phaseout of HFCs.

Solstice LBA, which is based on low GWP hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology, is an ingredient in closed-cell foam, allowing it to expand and enabling insulating performance. Solstice LBA has a low GWP of 1, which is 99.9 percent lower than HFCs and equal to carbon dioxide.

“A part of our low-GWP commitment is to introduce HFC-free spray foam products that meet our performance standards,” states Chip Holton, president, NCFI Polyurethanes. “Not only is our internal plan for conversions to a SmartSPF line ahead of the deadlines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we also believe these spray foam products give us a competitive advantage.”

The adoption of Solstice LBA is part of how NCFI is fulfilling its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that was first publicized during a 20-company roundtable discussion held by President Obama at the White House last October. At that event, NCFI was honored for plans to transition from HFCs to low-GWP products. Honeywell was also recognized at the event during which it presented projections on the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption of the Solstice product suite. Worldwide adoption of Solstice products has resulted in the reduction of more than 31 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, equal to eliminating emissions from more than 6 million cars. 

“NCFI continues to make progress with the adoption of Solstice LBA,” says Laura Reinhard, global business manager for spray foam, Honeywell. “Not only is NCFI demonstrating environmental leadership by offering spray foam products with reduced climate impact, it is also seeing performance improvements.”

Compared to NCFI’s HFC-based insulation systems, the new systems featuring Solstice LBA deliver improvements in sprayability, consistency, and surface finish. The foam is strong and allows for walking on the roof to maintain equipment with less risk of damaging the foam.

Solstice LBA is nonflammable (ASTM E-681) and is not a volatile organic compound under applicable EPA air quality regulations. Solstice LBA is listed as an acceptable substitute for HFC blowing agents under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program. Similarly, in Europe, Solstice LBA is regarded as non-global-warming and is not considered an F-Gas under the F-Gas regulations. It is registered under the European Union’s REACH program. Honeywell’s Solstice LBA manufacturing plant in Louisiana started up in May 2014.

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.

Clean Diesel Technology Helps Achieve Federal Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards

With 98 percent of the largest commercial trucks powered by diesel engines, the current and future advancements in clean diesel technology will be a key factor in helping the U.S. achieve the federal fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards announced today.
 
“The final rules establish a bold challenge to further increase fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to unprecedented levels from a wide range of commercial vehicles,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the non-profit Diesel Technology Forum.
 
“The demands on heavy-duty engine and truck manufacturers are numerous.  In addition to compliance with the fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions requirements on a variety of customizable products, they must ensure near zero emissions performance for at least 435,000 miles.  In addition to meeting all the latest federal safety requirements and having the highest uptime and reliability, the largest trucks must be able to move 80,000 pounds up mountains at 60 miles per hour, run 100,000 to 120,000 miles a year, in every corner of the United States, while doing it all at the lowest possible cost.
 
“Consistently meeting and exceeding these demands is why diesel engines power 98 percent of all the largest commercial trucks today and will do so for the foreseeable future.
 
“Meeting the challenges set forth in the first phase of these rules has been underway since 2014, and won’t be fully implemented until 2017.  In the days ahead we will be fully reviewing and offering additional insights on this complex rule, and are hopeful that the new goals established here achieve an effective balance of meeting customer demands and societal goals,” Schaeffer said.
 
New Clean Diesel Trucks Have Achieved Near-Zero Emissions
“For continued fuel savings and GHG reductions to be achieved, ultimately the acceptance and adoption of the technology by the trucking industry is key, and they have been embraced in this current generation of new clean diesel technology.  Forty-two percent of all commercial trucks in use today in the U.S. achieve near-zero particulate emissions with 2007 and newer diesel technology engines, while 26 percent have 2011 generation or newer clean diesel technology that also achieve near zero emissions of nitrogen oxides.  
 
“According to our most recent research, the 4.2 million new clean diesel commercial trucks put in service from 2007 through 2015 have saved nearly 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel and delivered significant emissions reductions equivalent to removing the CO2 emissions from 6.1 million light-duty vehicles from the road for one year, and NOx emissions from all light-duty vehicles for 2 years.  
 
“Efficiency is by no means a new concept to diesel engine and truck manufacturers.  This new rule raises the bar, demanding even further innovation while recognizing the unique considerations of the trucking industry and many differing commercial heavy-duty applications,” Schaeffer said.
 
NOx and Particulate Matter Emissions Have Been Reduced by 98%
“Gains in fuel efficiency and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have been built on the foundation of clean diesel technology that first emerged in 2007; advanced engines, new emissions control systems and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.  As a result of the clean diesel system, over the last 10 years, emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses have been reduced by 98 percent for nitrogen oxides – an ozone precursor – and 98 percent for particulate emissions.  It would take more than 60 of today’s generation clean diesel trucks to equal the emissions from a single truck built before 1990.  In Southern California more fine particles now come from brake dust and tire wear than from heavy-duty diesel trucks.  
 
 “Today’s diesel truck is more fuel efficient and has lower emissions than any previous generation, a significant accomplishment considering that increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions are near-opposite ends and competing forces in diesel engine design.  Because diesel engines offer this unmatched combination of energy efficiency, power, performance and reliability, now coupled with near zero emissions, it ensures that diesel will be the technology of choice to power the majority of commercial trucks into the future,” Schaeffer said.

Polyiso Industry Praises Proposal for Reduction in U.S. Carbon Emissions

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a draft proposal under Section 111 (d) of the Clean Air Act calling for greenhouse-gas emissions reduction of 30 percent by 2030. The new rule is geared to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from coal- and gas-fired power plants across the United States by providing states with a flexible menu of policy options for compliance.

“The proposed regulation from the EPA and the White House provide the tipping point in coalescing this country’s already strong technical capabilities to lower our carbon output,” said Jared Blum, president, Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA). “It is PIMA’s strong belief that energy efficiency in buildings can achieve much of what needs to be done.””

According to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, America’s total annual energy consumption in 2013 was 5.0 percent below 2007 levels. This long-term trend was in part prompted by the economic downturn of 2008-2009, but as economic growth has returned, energy use is not growing at a commensurate rate, and today our economy is far more energy-efficient than before.

“Our military, industrial and scientific leaders have requested that our government provide an actionable path forward. The 111(d) proposal is one such path that deserves broad business support,” added Blum.

A significant opportunity to increase building energy efficiency lies within the commercial roofing sector. Waterproof membranes on commercial low-slope roofs (flat roofs) last, on average, 17 years. When these membranes are replaced, building owners could add a reasonable amount of insulation, a practice that would save $12.2 billion in energy costs in just the first ten years. The annual savings after ten years would be $2.4 billion. This activity would also avoid 105 million tons of CO2 emissions, an amount that is equal to the annual emissions of 27 coal-fired power plants.