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Evaluating Safety Performance Properties of Common Foam Blowing Agents

low gwp foam blowing agent

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Its purpose is to evaluate and incorporate substitutes for ozone-depleting chemicals as they continue to be phased out under the Clean Air Act.

Some of the materials most affected by SNAP guidelines are:

  • Foam blowing agents used in refrigerators
  • Building insulation and furniture

Ozone-depleting materials like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) have been around for decades, but they are no longer considered safe or environmentally-friendly.

HFCs and HCFCs were created in the 1990s to replace chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), known ozone-depleting substances. However, scientists later discovered that both HFCs and HCFCs have high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Formulators are now working to sunset HFCs and CFCs and find safer alternatives that provide the same or better performance advantages. In this blog, we break down the safety performance properties of some of the most popular foam blowing agents.

HFC-134a

HFC-134a was developed as a response to concerns about CFCs and has a zero ozone depletion potential (ODP). However, it has a high GWP of 1430, which has led the European Union to ban it.

Applications for HFC-134a include:

  • Refrigerators
  • Automobile air conditioners
  • Plastic foam blowing
  • Cleaning solvent
  • Propellant for the delivery of pharmaceuticals
  • Gas dusters

In the U.S., SNAP has rated HFC-132a as unacceptable as of January 1, 2020. It remains acceptable for use in military applications until January 1, 2022 and for use in space- and aeronautics-related applications until January 1, 2025.

HFC-245fa

HFC-245fa is a non-ozone depleting alternative to trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11) and dichlorofluoroethane (HCFC-141b). While HFC-245fa does not have a high ODP, it has an undesirable GWP of 950-1020.

Applications for HFC-245fa include:

  • Blowing and insulation agent for plastic foam
  • Electronics cooling
  • Heat transfer
  • Thermal storage
  • Waste heat recovery systems

SNAP has rated HFC-245fa as unacceptable, except where allowed under narrowed use limits for military or space- and aeronautics-related applications, as of January 1, 2017. SNAP also rated it unacceptable for military applications as of January 1, 2022 and for space- and aeronautics-related applications as of January 1, 2025.

AMOLEA™ 1224yd

AMOLEA™ 1224yd is an environmentally safe replacement for HFC and HCFC urethane foam blowing agents. It offers the same physical properties and performance attributes of HFC-245fa, but with an ODP of almost zero and a GWP value under 1.

AMOLEA 1224yd has the same thermal stability of HFCs, has low thermal conductivity and is more stable than other HFOs. It offers good compatibility with most oils, metals, plastics and elastomers.

Ideal applications for AMOLEA 1224yd include:

  • Urethane foams
  • Polyurethane foam for appliances
  • Polyisocyanurate and other polymer foams
  • Solvent
  • Aerosol solvent/propellant

SNAP approval for AMOLEA 1224yd is pending.

To learn more about AMOLEA 1224yd, contact an AGC product specialist.

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