British manufacturer Precision has launched the first commercial catering refrigeration to use a new foam insulation based around vegetable oils rather than petrochemicals

The new foam, called Envirofoam, has been hailed as a major advance in environment-friendly solutions on two fronts. Not only because it is based on renewable resources, but also because it actually requires less energy to produce than conventional polyurethane foams. The new foam’s insulating properties and strength are every bit as good as a conventional foam. “Envirofoam is a very exciting development. We’re thrilled to be the first refrigeration manufacturer to be given the opportunity to realise its potential in the catering market,” says Jeremy Hall, managing director of Precision. “Our customers are increasingly concerned about the impact their business has on the environment – Envirofoam allows us to deliver genuinely ‘greener’ refrigeration, with no extra cost implications.” Currently commercial refrigeration uses foams based solely on petrochemicals. In contrast, the Envirofoam range contains high levels of natural, vegetable-based products, including a polymer derived from rapeseed oil.

IFS Group

Envirofoam has been developed by IFS Chemicals, a company with a history of green ‘firsts’, including the first CFC-free insulation foam back in 1988. Barrie Colvin of IFS says: “Envirofoam insulation combines the advantages of highly efficient polyurethane foams with environmental benefits that are completely new to the polymer industry.” The basic building blocks of polyurethane foam are called polyols, chemicals that are traditionally derived from the conventional petrochemical process. “We estimate that the energy used to produce the foams’ new vegetable-based polyols is about one-tenth of that used to manufacture conventional polyols,” Barrie Colvin adds. In the USA Cargill Inc has developed similar vegetable-based polyols for soft foam applications. Cargill claims that a preliminary life-cycle analysis shows that the manufacturing process of these 'BiOH' polyols compared to petroleum polyols results in:

  • 23% reduction in total energy demand
  • 61% reduction in non-renewable energy use
  • 36% less global warming emissions

The same analysis estimates that for every million pounds (453 tonnes) of petroleum-based polyols replaced with BiOH polyols, nearly 2200 barrels of crude oil are saved for more critical needs. Barrie Colvin comments: "Whilst this analysis is fine for their BiOH polyols, we have estimated that the savings from our rigid foam polyols are even higher. In particular, the total energy demand is estimated at 80% lower than the conventional materials."

Truly World Friendly

All Precision refrigeration will now be made using Envirofoam R2007. This foam’s polyol component contains more than 70% of vegetable-derived material and its blowing agent falls within the “less than 5” category for global warming. Furthermore, the foam blowing agents have no adverse effect on the earth’s ozone layer. What can we do for us on 01842 753 994 or email: