Solstice LBA is Honeywell’s brand name for HFO1233zd(E), which is also being increasingly adopted for use as a refrigerant by chiller manufacturers due to its efficiency and GWP of just 1.
Afinox’s adoption of this so-called fourth generation blowing agent came as a result of a partnership with polyurethane insulation specialists Europoliuretani srl in a comprehensive testing programme.
In recommending the new blowing agent, Europoliuretani compared the insulation performance of the foam systems made with three different blowing agents: water, HFC and Solstice LBA.
According to Honeywell, water-based foams provide less insulation since their initial thermal conductivity is higher and deteriorates at a higher rate over time. Operational costs are also higher since moulds have to be heated to guarantee acceptable adhesion to the liner and mixing and processing is more difficult since the polyol has a higher viscosity.
The transition to pentane needs to take into account the high costs associated with safety equipment to mitigate the flammability risk. This includes constant monitoring of the working areas, the use of leak detection equipment and powerful ventilation systems.
HFCs provide good insulation capabilities thanks to their low thermal conductivity. However, regulations in the European Union will limit their use in the future due to their high GWP.
The trial conducted by Europoliuretani and Afinox compared the relative performances of manufacturing a polyurethane panel using a water-based system, an HFC245fa blown system and Solstice LBA.
The panel made with Solstice LBA showed a 17% improvement in lambda over a 180 day period compared to water-based foam.
Immediately after obtaining these results, trials were conducted to evaluate the actual energy efficiency. Mekano BT 700 cabinets produced with two type of foams were tested side by side.
Cabinets using Solstice LBA were able to maintain a lower temperature than those made with HFC245fa and showed a 3% energy efficiency improvement.
Since the temperature in the cabinet made with Solstice LBA is always lower thanks to the improved insulation, the compressor needs to run with less frequency compared to the one made with HFC245fa resulting in lower energy consumption. Further improvement in energy efficiency is expected compared to pentane and water-based foams.
Following the test results, Afinox srl has substituted completely the HFC-245fa expanded polyurethane foam system with Solstice LBA. It has also given Europoliuretani even more confidence to promote Solstice LBA as an energy efficient and environmental compliant blowing agent to its customers.
According to Honeywell’s own tests, LBA also offers up to 10-12% better performance than cyclopentane.