An old proverb advises, "Ask the experienced rather than the learned."
The polyisocyanurate industry has used its experience to convert from hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC-141b) to hydrocarbon blowing agents for the manufacture of polyisocyanurate foam insulation. The polyisocyanurate industry is responding to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that eliminate the production and import of HCFC-141b as of Jan. 1. These regulations are part of the United States' commitment to the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. Extruded polystyrene also is affected by these regulations. Extruded polystyrene currently uses HCFC-142b, which is not slated for elimination by EPA until 2010.
This is not the first blowing-agent change for the polyisocyanurate industry, and polyisocyanurate manufacturers' dedication to successfully make this transition is a testament to the industry's ingenuity and commitment to achieving the highest possible environmental performance for its products.
The blowing-agent transition, which took about five years to complete, has been smooth, and product performance will continue to meet industry standards. In fact, members of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) have installed more than 1 billion board feet of polyisocyanurate with hydrocarbons as the blowing agent throughout North America during the past three years. These manufacturers report no product performance difference has been observed, and this also is supported by more extensive use of rigid polyurethane with hydrocarbons in Europe during the time period.