News release L July 4, 2007 P 281/07e Dr. Sylvia Kaufmann Phone: +49 (0)5443 12 2238 Fax: +49 (0)5443 12 2100 email@example.com K 2007 Trade press conference July 3 and 4, 2007 in Frankenthal, Germany How to make mattresses out of castor oil Lupranol BALANCE: polyols on the basis of renewable raw materials Presentation by Dr. Stephan Bauer, Technical Service for Flexible Slabstock Foams, Elastogran GmbH, Lemförde, Germany Elastogran GmbH 49448 Lemförde Public relations and market communication Phone +49 (0)5443 12-2267 Fax +49 (0)5443 12-2100 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.elastogran.de Page 2 P 281/07e Elastogran has succeeded in developing a new polyol on the basis of a renewable raw material and in launching it on the market. This product innovation is made of castor oil, is called Lupranol® BALANCE 50 and offers the decisive advantage that, as a so-called drop-in, it can replace conventional polyols directly without a change to the formulation. At the same time, a large portion of biomass is incorporated into the finished product. Polyetherols constitute the main component of polyurethane flexible foams. Market and material At 3.8 million metric tons, flexible foams make up a high percentage of the worldwide polyurethane consumption. The areas of application include the furniture and mattress industries, which account for over 80%. But owing to the special properties of this material, it is also used in technical applications such as textile lamination or in automotive construction. Flexible slabstock foams offer high comfort, breathability and a property profile that can easily be modified. Polyurethane flexible foams are lightweight, air-permeable and their hardness, elongation and density can all be variably selected. The majority of flexible foams are produced using the so-called slabstock foaming method. In this process, polyols, isocyanates, additives and water are mixed together, thus causing them to react. The foaming reaction mixture is laid continuously onto a conveyor belt and is then cut into blocks measuring up to 120 meters long once it reaches the end of the installation. These blocks can be processed in any desired way and serve as the basis for upholstered furniture, mattresses or laminated textiles. Mattresses made up of almost 25% renewable raw material The new product is made up of 31% castor oil. A finished mattress made with Lupranol® BALANCE contains up to 24% by weight of castor oil, without impairing the performance of the foam. This very Page 3 P 281/07e high percentage of renewable raw material in the finished product is a breakthrough in the realm of polyurethane base products. This has been made possible through the use of BASF’s cutting-edge catalyst technology. Successful outcome thanks to more reactive catalysts Polyetherols are manufactured through the polyaddition of propylene and/or ethylene oxide to higher-functional alcohols such as glycerine. Normally, this polyaddition is carried out under alkaline conditions with potassium hydroxide serving as the catalyst. Following the polymerization, the polyol then has to be neutralized in another step by adding acid. For quite some time now, the polyurethane developers at Elastogran have been studying a new class of catalysts, the so-called double- metal cyanide (DMC) catalysts. They are far more reactive than potassium hydroxide. Just the slightest traces of this catalyst are already sufficient to trigger the reaction between castor oil and ethylene or propylene oxide. The decisive advantage lies in the fact that the catalyst is neutral, preventing saponification of the oil, so that no odor-intense by-products are formed such as, for instance, the ring of ricinoleic acid. Experiments to date aimed at making use of renewable raw materials in the production of polyols using alkaline catalysts did not meet with success, primarily due to this odor problem. The new polyol can be foamed analogously to standard flexible slabstock foam polyols. There is practically no need to make changes to the existing slabstock foam formulations, which allows customers to change over to the renewable product quickly and cost-effectively. Like all of Elastogran’s flexible foam polyols, Lupranol® BALANCE is provided with an amine-free antioxidant package. Page 4 P 281/07e Good mechanical properties with excellent certification rating Many requirements are made of polyurethanes in objects of daily use. In addition to high mechanical strength, ageing resistance and breath- ability, it is also important for the material to earn product classifications such as “tested for harmful substances” and “Oeko- Tex”. The limit value as set forth in the German “LGA tested for harmful substances” test certificate for mattresses is 500 µg/m³ in measurements taken over the course of seven days. This testing revealed the outstanding value of less than 10 µg/m³ for the polyol- generated levels from a flexible slabstock foam on the basis of Lupranol® BALANCE 50. The evaluation of the odor of the foam after storage in a test chamber yielded a value of 2.1, likewise an excellent result. These measurements were made by the Industrial Institute of the State of Bavaria (LGA), Germany, in a chamber test for mattresses employing a combination of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry that is capable of detecting even minute quantities. And when it came to the mechanical values of this foam made of the new polyol, the good properties of the standard variant were matched. Chemical base material from the garden The castor oil plant, Ricinus communis, is native to the tropics and subtropics and it grows in Europe as an ornamental shrub in gardens and parks. Its seeds yield castor oil, also known as Verenda oil, which has been employed for thousands of years for medicinal purposes but which is also utilized for technical oils, coatings, hydraulic fluids and cosmetics. Using BASF’s catalyst, castor oil can now also be used as a building block in the production of polyols: the triglyceride of ricinoleic acid has the same functionality – three hydroxyl groups per molecule – as the initial raw materials currently used for flexible foam production. Page 5 P 281/07e Photo: Elastogran, 2007 Up to now, it has not been possible to employ renewable raw materials to make the chemical base substances from the class of polyols that go into the production of polyurethane flexible block foam mattresses because odor and processing problems were always encountered. Elastogran GmbH, a subsidiary of BASF AG, has now succeeded in developing Lupranol® Balance 50, a polyol extracted from castor oil, a natural product. Mattresses made of this material contain up to 24% renewable raw material.