Isocyanate Polyol Isocyanate Polyol

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Pigments Many PUs tend advice for dating an arab man yellow in the light albeit without any adverse affect on the physical properties. Blowing Agents Cellular or foamed PUs are manufactured by using blowing agents to form gas bubbles in the reaction mixture as it polymerises.

Polyurethanes - An Introduction Catalysts have a key role in PU production being required to maintain a balance between the reaction of the isocyanate and polyol.

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Its main function is to exploit the diverse reactions to create a product with the desired properties. The former primarily to make cheaper formulations, the latter are of growing interest in reaction injection moulding RIM technology see later.

The combination of very complex PU chemistry and diverse processing and moulding conditions make great demands of the catalyst. Amines are the other major class of catalysts widely used in the making of PU foams. Fillers As with other polymers the use of fillers in PUs will yield products with modified performance.

The Tg provides a measure of the polymer's softening point and some indication of the safe upper limit of its working temperature range. To produce coloured PUs pigmented pastes are added to the polyol formulation.

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Microphase separation of their hard segments. Therefore the formulation of a PU must take into account every possible reactive constituent. Chloroflurocarbons CFCs have been used as blowing agents but their effects on the ozone layer have led to restrictions of their use and they are being replaced by more environmentally acceptable alternatives such as pentane.

The curing of a PU can be regarded as the formation of a network, also called crosslinking, the extent or degree of cure is often expressed as the crosslink density.

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There are two main classes of catalyst used in PU production. Tin catalysts are used to catalyse micro cellular elastomers and reaction injected moulded RIM systems. When the temperature is raised the clusters disassociate and the material can be made to flow, when subsequently cooled the clusters reform and the material again exhibits elastomeric properties.

Rigid foams yield sufficient exothermic heat from the reaction to allow foam expansion in association with the blowing agent.

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Solid compounds such as melamine and aluminium trihydrate are also important flame retardants. The extent of cross linking may vary and will be reflected in the final properties of the PU, ranging from longer, linear chains of flexible elastomers and foams to the rigid, heavily cross linked polymers.

The most popular organometallic catalysts are tinbutyltin dilaurate and stannous octoate. Some amine catalysts promote crosslinking whilst others assist in controlling the foam's cell structure. Flexible PU foams are usually blown by the C02 generated by the reaction of water and isocyanate or in association with methylene chloride.

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These considerations will include the effects of smoke and toxic decomposition products on people, property and equipment. Thus these materials show elastomeric behaviour at room temperature, but can be processed as thermoplastics.

This can be represented by the following: Basic Polyurethane Chemistry The simplest PU is linear in which the hydroxyl compound and the nitrogen compound each have a functionality of two. Hence the name of the material class, thermoplastic urethane elastomer.

The pigments, both inorganic and organic, improve the light stability of PU products. They are effectively co-polymers of a hard PU and a very flexible PU in which microphase segregation of the hard phase occurs figure 3. Flame retardants Certain end use sectors now take greater account of possible 'worst scenarios' in materials selection.

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Chain Extenders Chain extenders are reactive low molecular weight di-functional compounds such as hydroxyl amines, glycols or diamines and are used to influence the end properties of the PU. Blowing of the foam can also be accomplished by the direct injection of air or gas into the foam.

They are usually low boiling point liquids which are volatilised by the heat generated by the exothermic reaction between the isocyanate and polyol. Calcium carbonate and glass fibres are most commonly used.

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Thermoplastic polyurethanes TPUs are a particular case. There is an increasing commitment to tougher requirements and in certain sectors of the PU industry this has led to the development of low or halogen free systems.

PU foams used in furniture are an example which spring to mind. Organometallics are used to accelerate the reaction and formation of urethane linkages and hence promote rapid curing.

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Fire retardancy can be achieved by the addition of fluorine, chlorine, bromine or iodine compounds to the polyol. PUs may have a very widely varying structure depending on the type of isocyanate and the type of reactive hydrogen components present in the formulation.

The presence or otherwise of the various groups along the urethane linkage will control the end properties of the polymer.