(BiobasedNews.com) – Organic cotton sheets and pillows have been on the market for quite some time, but recently, manufacturers have been focusing on the use of biobased, natural materials in their bedding and mattresses to give their customers a good night’s sleep – and peace of mind. The term “all-nighter” is taking on a new definition in today’s low-impact world.
Dow Polyurethanes – a business group of The Dow Chemical Co. in partnership with Simmons Bedding Co. – has launched a line of Natural Care® mattresses of biobased foam derived from natural, oil-based polyols (NOPs). With highly renewable content, the foam is a product of RENUVA™ Renewable Resource Technology from Dow.
Dow’s new technology eliminates a “stinky” problem that plagued this product in the past. Foams made from petroleum-based polyols have been favored over NOPs because the latter frequently emitted a generally unpleasant odor. The new Dow foam bonds a broken-down soybean oil molecule with other traditional components to create virtually the same product – minus the smell. The RENUVA ™ process is also greenhouse-gas neutral, and it requires 60% fewer fossil fuels inputs than petroleum-based products.
Dow has been working with NOPs since the early 1990s, and because of it, today’s consumer can not only sleep smarter, but also drive smarter, work smarter, and relax smarter. With VORANOL VORACTIV polyols, Dow found ways to reduce the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the production of polyurethane flexible foam. At high levels of exposure, VOCs can cause everything from headaches and nausea to nervous system damage and cancer – meaning a host of government regulations and precautions, such as the use of full protective equipment throughout the fabrication process.
By trimming down on harmful emissions released, manufacturers today can avoid both health risks and the need for additional storage, handling, and formulation procedures. Products made using the new polyols translate into improved indoor air quality and reduced odor for the end user. The materials are used for cushioning in furniture and bedding, carpet backing, car seats and instrument panels, flooring, and insulation for appliances, sheathing, and roofing.
Dow is by no means the only company making strides in finding low-impact ways to produce polyurethane foam. Cargill’s BiOH® polyols, derived from natural vegetable oils, most recently have been adopted by the Carpenter Co. for use in a new brand of foam cushions. Cargill also announced construction of a $22-million BiOH polyol plant in Chicago to meet an increase in demand for the product. It will be the first world-scale biobased polyols plant.
It’s important that individual consumers continue to make changes in our lifestyles to lessen our impact on the planet – but producers like Dow and Cargill are showing the way on the larger stage by putting substantial chunks of their R&D dollars into natural materials in place of synthetic or petroleum-based ones.
As a result, we all can work, live, play, stand, sit, walk, drive – and now sleep – in a smarter, more eco-friendly way.