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Cars Could Lose Weight With Green Cavity Foam
7/30/2012

A renewable version of Dow Automotive Systems' polyurethane cavity sealing BETAFOAM system can help cars lose weight and cut noise.   (Source: Dow Automotive Systems)
A renewable version of Dow Automotive Systems' polyurethane cavity sealing BETAFOAM system can help cars lose weight and cut noise.
(Source: Dow Automotive Systems)

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Beth Stackpole
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Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Beth Stackpole   7/30/2012 8:06:25 AM
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Love to see these efforts around creating renewable versions of proven materials and carrying over many of the same characteristics so they have high utility for materials engineers. Makes it very easy to go the sustainability route when the choices are just part of good, everyday design practices.

Dave Palmer
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Soy-based polyurethanes
Dave Palmer   7/30/2012 12:15:31 PM
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@Ann: Are you sure that the density is 1.45 g/cm³? This is equivalent to 90 pounds per cubic foot.  At this density, the  foam would sink in water.  The density of a typical polyurethane sound-absorbing foam is around 2 pounds per cubic foot (about 0.03 g/cm³).  Are you sure the density wasn't given in U.S. units, rather than metric units?

Generally, the sound absorption of foams depends on the frequency of the sound.  Any indication of what frequency range this foam is best suited for?

Also, any word on whether Dow has any plans to market this material in sheet form? Or will it be sold only as an injectable cavity foam?

Finally, how does the cost of the soy-based polyurethane compare to petroleum-based polyurethanes? This will definitely be a big factor in its acceptance.

Thanks for an article on an interesting topic.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2012 12:35:51 PM
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I also think it's cool that this cavity foam using a non-food renewable material that's a byproduct of food production. Many materials companies are getting on the bandwagon to ensure that their feedstocks are really green: both renewable and non-competitive with the human food supply.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Dave Palmer   7/30/2012 1:06:37 PM
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@Ann: Calling soybean oil a "byproduct of food production" rather than a food product is a little disingenuous.  Soybean oil is one of the most widely-consumed cooking oils.

It's true that the soy flakes, which remain after the oil is extracted, are used as animal feed (and for soy protein for human consumption).  Using the oil as an industrial feedstock wouldn't affect this use.

Of course, soybean oil is already widely used in industry -- for instance, it's used to make ink -- and it seems unlikely that the (relatively) small amount of additional soybean oil which would be used to make these foams would have any impact on the price or supply of cooking oil.

But, yes, soybean oil is a food product.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2012 1:08:22 PM
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Dave, the spec Dow provided was 1.45 gm/cc. Note that that's 25 percent less dense than the previous product at 2.0 gm/cc. James did not provide price details, or mention sheet forms of this product or any other future plans regarding it.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Dave Palmer   7/30/2012 1:36:41 PM
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@Ann: I wonder if your contact at Dow misspoke.  According to the datasheet for the previous product, its density is 2 pcf, not 2 g/cm³.

If so, it wouldn't be the first time somebody mixed up metric and U.S. customary units.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2012 1:50:04 PM
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Dave, at least one of the specs were on their presentations and they were also given in the interview. I find it tough to believe that anyone at Dow would mistake units of measurement. I've sent an email asking them to verify the spec.

greg
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
greg   7/30/2012 10:46:13 PM
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at that density, and considering that as a foam it consists of mainly air, the material of the foam itself would have to be denser than lead!
must be a typo.


edit- from the dow chemicals betafoam brochure (not the new one):

BETAFOAM classic and low-MDI acoustic
foam products range in density from 2 pcf to
5 pcf.

Dave
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conversion
Dave   7/31/2012 12:15:36 PM
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2 pcf = .03 grams per cc

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Removing the burdens around sustainable design
Ann R. Thryft   7/31/2012 12:36:50 PM
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We've just heard back from Allan James, the person I interviewed at Dow. The spec he gave me was, in fact, wrong--thanks to Dave Palmer for pointing that out. James says the correct measurements are 1.45 pcf for BETAFOAM Renue and 2.0 pcf for the product being replaced.

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