Recycling reactors for PU residues

H&S Anlagentechnik has developed an innovative technology and reactor installations for the chemical conversion of flexible and rigid polyurethane foam residues into polyol. The technologies enable to produce high-quality recovered polyols on a suitable production scale.

In comparison to previous recycling methods, polyols generated by H&S technology have good reactivity and do not contain primary aromatic amines (methylene and toluene diamine), which are hazardous and not acceptable especially in bedding and upholstery foams.

Polyurethane foam manufacturers of both rigid or flexible types are showing a lot of interest in recycling technology. For flexible foam, this is because the methods previously used, such as rebound foam for carpet underlay and sports mats, are no longer economically attractive. Prices for flexible foam scrap has being decreased permanently.

Chemical recycling is a more efficient way to convert residues. Another factor is that polyol prices are rising permanently. Moreover, the ‘green’ aspect of recycling is increasingly important, as everyone is pushed to decrease CO2 emissions. Recycling is also one of the ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions and a closed production loop is also a highly sustainable route.

For rigid foam scrap, prices for disposal are rising tremendously. In Europe, such scrap can no longer be disposed of in landfill so it must be incinerated, and that is quite expensive.

Applications for mechanically recycled rigid foam, as powder, are limited. Also, since an enormous volume of rigid scrap is generated by processors such as big insulating panels manufacturers, recycling small amounts ground up as a powder filler cannot use it all. Of course the growing price of polyols also plays a role here.