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Silicone surfactants offer appliances improved energy efficiency

GE Advanced Materials : 04 August, 2004  (New Product)
GE Advanced Materials has a new family of silicone surfactants for hydrocarbon (HC) blown foam insulation used in the appliance industry.
Niax Silicone L-6884 and Niax Silicone L-6988 silicone surfactants represent a breakthrough in the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foam systems based on hydrocarbon (HC) blowing agents. The new products not only improve the solubility of hydrocarbon into the polyurethane system for a stable mix, but also enable formation of very fine foam cells for superior insulating properties. By implementing Niax silicone surfactants, manufacturers of refrigerators, freezers, and coolers can improve the energy efficiency of their appliances for greater consumer appeal.

The global industry has widely adopted rigid polyurethane foam systems based on HC blowing agents. While these blowing agents offer good performance, they also have historically had the significant disadvantage of limited solubility into the raw material blend, which causes pentane phase separation and loss of the homogeneity of the mix. GE’s Niax silicone surfactants, however, provide improved HC solubility, resulting in a clear and stable system that reduces the issue of pentane separation. Further, the new products expand the range of polyols that can be used in formulated systems.

A second and equally important benefit of Niax surfactants is their ability to produce extremely fine foam cells with reduced void formation and superior thermal insulating properties. Better insulation of refrigerated contents means lower energy consumption and a more efficient appliance – which is especially important to today’s cost-conscious purchasers. Niax surfactants also offer potential for application areas such as water heaters, pipes, and insulating panels.

NIAX Silicone L-6884 silicone surfactant provides compatibility with pentanes and other hydrophilic polyol compositions, avoiding haziness and phase separation. It produces extremely fine cells and delivers good foam flow, even density distribution, and low void formation. Niax Silicone L-6988 is a very efficient surfactant that provides uniform, low thermal conductivity in hydrocarbon blown-foam cabinets.

“As the industry continues efforts to reduce emission and fuel costs continue to rise sharply, there is an increasing focus on energy efficiency across the board,” said Alberto Melle, global marketing manager, Urethane Additives, GE Advanced Materials. “Consumers are looking for products – especially major appliances – that deliver measurable cost savings through operating efficiency. By using GE Advanced Materials’ NIAX silicone surfactants in their insulating foam systems, manufacturers can lower the energy requirements of their appliances to address this consumer demand. At the same time, they can optimise the production of rigid foam insulation for an improved end result.”
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