High Point, North Carolina – Polyurethane foam represents a growth opportunity for Piedmont Chemical Industries I, according to its vice president and chief operating officer Emil Delgado. With a history predominantly in the textile sector, the company now offers antimicrobials for the bedding products and cushions market. Delgado says the company’s success with antimicrobials has opened the door to supply other materials, and act as a contract manufacturer to the industry.
The antimicrobial is a silane quat, 3-(trimethoxysilyl) propyldimethyl octadecyl, formulated in a glycol base. It is reactive with urethane, Delgado says, and once the foam is made, it is locked in and cannot leach out.
“Mattresses and cushions are products where humans make intimate contact and may transfer biologics,” he said. “Our focus is on green manufacture and non-leaching materials. The challenge in urethane is they cannot interfere with foaming properties. It is very different to coatings.”
The antimicrobial was originally developed by Dow Corning and sold in a methanol base. Replacing methanol with non-flammable glycol makes it more user-friendly. “We retro-engineered old technology to weaponise the product,” he said. “What we did was not intuitive. Any chemist of sound mind would say it wouldn’t work, but it did.”
Delgado believes that the antimicrobial, sold under the FoamFresh brand name, will become the product of choice in the urethanes market because of its health benefits. It is also more environmentally friendly than the metal-based alternatives.
Delgado was speaking on the sidelines of UTECH North America 2016 which ran in Charlotte, North Carolina from 6-7 April 2016.