Kingspan’s PLANET PASSIONATE program
Climate change, ecological footprint, circular economy, green energy and green chemistry. All these expressions are in the mind of people living on planet Earth today. The positive approach to safeguard the wellbeing on this planet for ourselves and our children has been the trigger for the senior management of Kingspan to launch the PLANET PASSIONATE program. This program will span a decade and is built around several pillars like energy, water, CO2 emissions and circularity of materials.
Circularity of materials
Kingspan’s thermal insulation product range, all with focus on completing high-performance, low-energy building envelope, has already contributed for many years to reduce energy consumption due to the excellent thermal properties. When looking into the issue of making materials circular, Kingspan’s strategy is to look for both recycling solutions as well as biobased feedstocks to replace the fossil sourced building blocks. To be successful replacing fossil sourced building blocks by biobased alternatives, cooperation within the entire value chain is a must. Compared to the petrochemical market and products, the biobased economy and their sustainable building blocks are still a very young activity in full expansion, increasing the TRL constantly.
Kingspan is aware of the growing possibilities of the bio economy and the support Kingspan can have of being part of international development projects like FRACTION to assist reaching the goals defined in the Planet Passionate program.
Kooltherm® and lignin
Kooltherm® is the tradename for all Kingspan insulating foams based on resole technology where a phenol-formaldehyde based resin is fully cured while expanding it with the aid of a blowing agent to a closed cell foam with excellent thermal properties due to the fine cell structure and the presence of a low conductivity blowing gas and with excellent fire properties due to the high aromatic content of the formed polymer.
People tend to say, ‘You can make anything from lignin, except money’. For Kingspan this is true. When searching for biobased alternatives for the aromatic structures we use, lignin is an obvious choice to focus on. Lignin is already widely available as a side stream from the paper and pulp industry, however the general performance of these (mainly) kraft lignins is too low for the applications Kingspan is aiming for.
New generation lignins – FRACTION
Fraction stands for the full fractionation and valorization of 2nd generation biomass. This approach fits with Kingspan aspirations to define lignin grades which are fitting our needs to keep on producing high performance products:
- Reduced ecological impact due to starting from 2nd generation biomass and creating hardly any waste throughout the process.
- Better performing lignin grades due to the organosolv concept of the fractionation and possibilities within FRACTION to modify lignin to increase the fit with the specifications of the final product.
FRACTION as a tool for networking
Next to the scientific and innovative approach of projects like FRACTION, Kingspan is aware of the networking strength of the consortium meetings and round table discussions we have within FRACTION. New contacts arise and ideas grow in this network enabling Kingspan to define additional benefits which are in fact out of Kingspan’s scope in FRACTION.
Patrick De Schryver is R&D Manager at Kingspan for Technical Insulation foams based in the Belgian plant in Turnhout with a clear focus on searching for and implementing biobased and/or recycled building blocks in Kingspan Insulation products.