The University of Sheffield
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PU Rational Design Data

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posted on 2022-11-08, 15:24 authored by Harry WrightHarry Wright

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Rational Design of a Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane (PU) foams are exceptionally versatile due to the nature of PU bond formation and the large variety of polymeric backbones and formulation components such as catalysts and surfactants. This versatility introduces a challenge, namely a near unlimited number of variables for formulating foams. In addition to this, PU foam development requires expert knowledge, not only in polyurethane chemistry but also in the art of evaluating the resulting foams. In this work, we demonstrate that a rational experimental design framework in conjunction with a design of experiments (DoE) approach reduces both the number of experiments required to understand the formulation space and reduces the need for tacit knowledge from a PU expert. We focus on an in-depth example where a catalyst and two surfactants of a known formulation are set as factors and foam physical properties are set as responses. An iterative DoE approach is used to generate a set of foams with substantially different cell morphology and hydrodynamic behaviour. We demonstrate that with 23 screening formulations and 16 final formulations, foam physical properties can be modelled from catalyst and surfactant loadings. This approach also allows for the exploration of relationships between the cell morphology of PU foam and its hydrodynamic behaviour.


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