The Evolution of Spray Foam Insulation Blowing Agents

A major part of the innovation of spray foam products over the last three decades has been the evolution of blowing agents. Blowing agents are the gases used to expand the cells of foam plastic insulation and give it additional insulating properties. Blowing agents have Global Warming Potential (GWP), which measures potential impacts contributing to atmospheric warming. There are several generations of spray foam, each with its own GWP.

The original spray foam insulation used Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). With a GWP of over 4,000, this type of spray foam was destructive to the earth’s ozone layer, and was banned in 1996. 

The “second generation” of spray foam used hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). With a high GWP of over 700, this type of insulation was also banned, in 2005. The “third generation” use Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Its GWP ranges from 950 to over 3,400. Though this type of blowing agent is being phased out. There are no federal requirements to transition to low GWP blowing agents in the foam sector. However, multiple states are making the change. California, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Maine, Virginia, Delaware, Rhode Island and Washington have enacted legislation prohibiting their use

Today’s “fourth generation” of blowing agents, Hydrofluoro-olefin (HFOs), have a GWP of less than one. In states where the HFC phase out has begun, installers will need to use fourth generation HFO spray foams, like XCELUS XLS2000, after the date specified in the regulations.

Contact us to learn more about the environmentally responsible blowing agents used in XCELUS spray foam.