Polylabs to present innovative, biobased lightweight spray foam at upcoming PSE


At the upcoming international exhibition for polyurethane solutions - the PSE – that will take place this year at the end of June in Munich, Germany, a 5-person start-up from Latvia will be introducing a new, biobased polyurethane formulation for foam insulation.

mIt’s not the first spray foam insulation to be marketed as biobased, the new formulation from Latvia-based Polylabs Bio Polyols can lay claim to being among the products with the highest bio-content. According to the company’s founder and CEO Kristiāns Grundštoks, who was a speaker at last week’s International Conference on Bio-based Materials in Cologne, the polyols his company produces have a renewable content of 60-74%, far more than many of the rival, often soy-based products can aspire to.

Polylabs’ bio-polyols are synthesized using renewable materials such as rapeseed or tall oils using a technology developed during the Soviet era by the Institute of Wood Chemistry of Latvia, which this academic institute had done nothing with – but had laying on the shelf.

Kristiāns Grundštoks: “The Institute itself was very academic, non-commercial with no contact or connections with the market. We decided to partner with them, to try to upscale the technology.” He went on to explain the technology, that works by adding hydroxyl groups to fatty acids and resin acids in amidization and esterification reactions of carboxyl groups with alkanolamines. “They are auto-catalytic, which allows us to reduce the amount of catalyst in systems. We are resource efficient, using local feedstock and our process produces no waste and no by-products. Our product is CO2 negative and allows our clients to pass even the strictest environmental regulations.”

Polyurethane foam made with Polylabs’s bio polyols, has the same or better physical characteristics as petrochemical-based polyols. Interestingly, there is no premium on the new polyols. “We knew that we couldn’t be more expensive than conventional polyols if we wanted to succeed. Our price rivals that of petro-based products,” Grundštoks said. “And our price is stable.”

The company is already working on the next step: developing its own formulations. “We just finished a formulation for a lightweight spray foam insulation last week, which we will be presenting at the PSE show in June,” said Grundštoks.

He added: “It’s here that we especially have great benefits from our partnership with the Institute of wood chemistry of Latvia. It gives us access to the scientific expertise of over 100 researchers working there, and to their laboratories, providing support to us on new product development and enabling us in turn to provide our customers with scientific help in systems development, product testing and fine tuning.”