polioli bio per schiuma poliuretana rigida


It is positive to say that the world is prioritizing eco-friendly solutions, meaning there is a focus on researching and preferring products that are more sustainable with a lower environmental impact. Many companies are therefore turning their gaze toward going green, including our customers.

This article presents a “case history” of a customer who contacted us for the development of a more sustainable polyurethane system for their business.


the customer company produces polyurethane semi-finished products, both rigid and flexible foam, for the furniture industry, such as armchairs, stools, pouf, sofas, and more.

Specifically, the company requested us to develop a more environmentally friendly component for the polyurethane system. They required us to do this in the short term and with a product that would not alter the characteristics of the current foam, ensuring the same comfort and functionality as the polyurethane seats.


The request for an environmentally-friendly product urged the R&D laboratory to find good alternatives to the current product.

Initially there were three viable solutions:

1) Polyols derived from recycled PET bottles of polyester types.

This alternative would require a radical change in the formulation of the current polyurethane system since PET polyols have a completely different chemical nature. However, this option was discarded because creating a new formulation would take a long time, which was not in line with the client’s expectations.

2) Polyols derived from glycolysis.

Glycolysis is a chemical process that involves recovering waste from various types of rigid expanded foams. After conducting laboratory analyses, it was found that this option, although very interesting, could not guarantee a consistent chemical-physical quality of the product. This is because each recycling process involves different types of foam.

3) Bio-based/vegetable-based polyols.

This option, considering the client’s request, proved to be the most suitable for their needs. The chemical laboratory found that the naturally derived polyol from cardanol (a phenolic lipid obtained from cashew nut shell oil) had similar chemical-physical properties to the polyol currently in use. This meant that the chemical formulation did not need to be completely distorted, and the R&D laboratory could create a new, more environmentally friendly polyurethane system in a short period of time.


Various types of naturally derived polyols (from cardanol) were tested and analyzed in the laboratory to identify the perfect one for the client’s final application.

One of the very first polyols tested in the laboratory had the required chemical and physical characteristics requested by the customer. However, unfortunately, it had an intense red color that, when mixed with the isocyanate, resulted in a light orange polyurethane.

Poliuretano semi lavorato con sistema bio based

“The color was the main reason to test other type of naturally derived polyols. The client specifically sought a rigid polyurethane with a straw-yellow color once foamed for their semi-finished products. ”

Other types of more sustainable polyols had some reactions with certain catalysts, resulting in a gelatinous product that was unsuitable for injection with a foaming machine, as the polyol was not completely liquid.

After numerous laboratory tests, the perfect vegetable-based polyol was identified, meeting the required chemical, physical, color, and other technical specifications that precisely matched the client’s needs.

Poliuretano semi lavorato con sistema bio based
Conclusions and future targets

Once identified the bio-based product, we were able to integrate it into the water-based polyurethane system, creating a more environmentally friendly product in a short time and without completely changing the polyurethane formulation. The result of formulating a polyurethane system with 20% bio-based polyol derived from cashew nut shells is a step forward in the direction of eco-sustainability. The bio-based polyol is a more sustainable raw material that reduces environmental impact.

Our goal of reaching 30% bio-based polyol is even more ambitious, but it proves the company’s commitment to continuously improving its solutions in terms of sustainability.

Why choose a more sustainable polyurethane

A greener PU aligns with market trends, as many producers are now actively searching for environmentally safer and sustainable solutions.

The analysis of this type of bio-based polyol shows that it has a lower CO2 impact compared to other fossil-based materials. Moreover, the gwp (Global Warming Potential) indicator is significantly lower for bio-based polyols compared to fossil-based polyols. Furthermore, polyols derived from cashew nut shell oil exhibit a lower abiotic depletion potential, which refers to the use of energy derived from fossil resources in the production of the polyol, compared to polyols obtained from petroleum.

Moreover, the polyurethane system does not contain neither solvents nor environmentally harmful chemical additives,such as formaldehyde, chlorine, or volatile solvents. This ensures the performance of “traditional” polyurethane.

The protection of the environment is a global challenge that requires everyone’s commitment.

We hope that the company’s initiative will set an example for others, and that more and more producers will strive to adopt more eco-friendly solutions for their industry.

The choice for a more sustainable polyurethane is not limited to companies producing polyurethane semi-finished products for furniture. This initiative is applicable to various other sectors as well, including insulation, refrigeration, air treatment, and many other applications where rigid polyurethane plays a significant role.

Would you like to transform your polyurethane into a more sustainable polyurethane system?

Contact us now!