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Bayer Polyurethane RIM Technology Helps OEM Cut Energy Consumption Of Store Merchandisers By 25 Percent

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 02 August, 2001  (Company News)
Owners of grocery and convenience stores in California and other states looking for ways to ease their power woes don't have to look farther than their own freezer section for a fresh idea.
Using polyurethane reaction injection molding technology (RIM) from Bayer Corporation, a new type of door for reach-in, refrigerated merchandisers contributes to a 25 percent reduction in electricity required to operate the reach-in frozen food cases that keep consumers' favorite ice creams, vegetables and microwave dinners frozen.

Hussmann Corporation, of St. Louis, a subsidiary of Ingersol-Rand's Climate Control Division, uses the Bayflex® XGT-16 elastomeric polyurethane RIM system from Bayer's Polyurethanes Division. Bayer's material is an alternative to metal for producing polymer door frames that are strong and less thermally conductive than conventional metal door frames. The RIM process also reduces manufacturing steps.

The Bayflex XGT-16 polyurethane RIM system from Bayer's Polyurethanes Division is an elastomeric polymer used in the reaction injection molding process. It is supplied as two reactive liquid components that form a solid material when they are combined during molding operations. Physical properties of the Bayflex XGT-16 system include a flexural modulus of 16,000 psi, a Shore hardness of 94A to 45D and a tear strength of 450 lbf/in. Tensile strength and tensile elongation also are good. The Bayflex XGT-16 system is used in a variety of applications requiring excellent impact properties.

Cuts Energy Consumption Up To 25 Percent

Combined with a case frame fabricated from non-conductive, pultruded fiberglass material, Hussmann's doors contribute to a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption compared to standard metal doors, according to John Roche, Manager, New Product Development, for Hussmann. This is achieved by using materials with lower thermal conductivity, which allows for reduced anti- sweat heat in the merchandiser case and lower compressor energy consumption.

A store with 100 doors and an electricity cost of 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) can save approximately $6,000 to $10,000 annually, Roche explained.

'We call this door the Innovator?, and it has helped Hussmann differentiate itself and be more competitive in the market for glass-door, reach-in merchandisers,' said Roche. Hussmann began offering the Innovator doors as an option on its entire line of reach-in merchandisers earlier this year.

The Challenge - Encapsulating Glass

Developing the Innovator doors was partly prompted by earlier advances Bayer had made to Hussmann about trying out the RIM process for components of its merchandisers, Roche said. Hussmann pursued the idea with support from Bayer.

Molding the one-piece door is similar to the process automakers have used for years to encapsulate and fix vehicle side windows into place. Bayer helped Hussmann transfer the technology to producing the Innovator doors.

Each door features a triple-pane glass construction with polymer spacers between each pane. The pre-assembled glass assembly is inserted into mold. The RIM process also allows the door's steel hinges and other hardware to be molded into the door frame during molding.

No post-painting operation is necessary, because the Bayflex XGT-16 system incorporates a black pigment coloring.

Hussmann molds matching ergonomic door handles separately using the same material and attaches them to the doors in one of the few secondary operations. 'The Bayflex material produces a door handle that is warm to the touch and more ergonomic than standard aluminum handles,' Roche explained.

The Innovator doors are manufactured at Hussmann's Monterrey, Mexico, plant. 'Bayer was involved at every step of the door's development, and their technician spent a great deal of time at our Monterrey plant,' Roche said. 'She even studied Spanish so she could communicate with our employees in their own language, which they appreciated.'
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