A Bayer MaterialScience manufacturing site in Baytown, US

A Bayer MaterialScience manufacturing site in Baytown, US

PU sealants cut energy usage

The Bayer study provides an insight into the efficacy of a few tubes of polyurethane sealant in providing financial and environmental gains to homeowners

01 December 2013

A study conducted in a US home by Bayer MaterialScience LLC researchers to demonstrate the benefits of polyurethane (PU) sealants shows there was a 25 per cent reduction in airflow based on blower door testing performed before and after the sealant was applied.

The research revealed other benefits including significant energy savings. Fourteen tubes of polyurethane sealant and a circa 1955 suburban Pittsburgh home made for a perfect fit to seal in noteworthy energy savings.

More than just a do-it-yourself weekend project, this endeavour was part of a polyurethane sealant life cycle assessment conducted by Bayer MaterialScience LLC researchers.

With a minimal investment – less than $100 to purchase 14 tubes of a polyurethane sealant used to seal gaps in the home’s envelope, such as those around doors and windows – the study’s results were astounding:

• A 25 per cent reduction in airflow based on blower door testing performed before and after the sealant was applied

• Estimated 20-year energy savings equivalent to a 60-watt bulb operating for 12.7 years continuously

• Estimated greenhouse gas avoidance during a 20-year period that is equivalent to 32 acres of US forest

• Approximately 10 times the amount of energy savings per year compared with the amount of energy embodied in the sealant

• A short payback period – as little as four months in one estimate – that quickly offsets the initial investment in a polyurethane sealant.

Dr Jay Johnston, senior scientist, Bayer MaterialScience LLC, shared these and other benefits of polyurethane sealants during his presentation “Sealants for sustainability: Life cycle assessment of a polyurethane sealant on a residential structure,” during the Adhesive and Sealant Council Fall Convention and Expo in Minneapolis, US.

A life cycle assessment according to ISO 14040/44 is a holistic evaluation of the environmental impacts from all stages of a product’s life from raw material acquisition to final disposal. In this case, the product evaluated is a moisture-cure polyurethane sealant applied to a 2,000 sq ft, two-story, brick façade home. In addition to Dr Johnston, the study was authored by George Pavlovich, product sustainability and life cycle assessment manager, and Shen Tian, environmental engineer, all of Bayer MaterialScience LLC.

“With just a small investment in a polyurethane sealant and a little elbow grease, do-it-yourself homeowners can reduce energy usage, in turn lowering energy costs and contributing to the decrease of greenhouse gases,” Dr Johnston said. “This life cycle assessment demonstrates the positive environmental impact when polyurethane sealants are applied in a residential setting.”

US-based Bayer MaterialScience LLC is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business headquartered in Germany.

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