Reduction of emissions and sustainable (solvents in) polyurethane coating

Project information
Project type: COOP Cooperative Research and Development
Starting date: July 1st 2018
Total project budget: To be determined
Subsidy: To be determined

With certain textile PU coating processes solvent is used or even combinations of solvents. For the removal of the solvent gas emissions, the companies use air purification techniques like scrubbers, rotor concentrators and post combustion. In cases where the gas streams have a medium or high load, the efficiency of current technologies is not high enough to reduce the solvent to the required minimum concentrations. The textile coating companies in Flanders are subjected to stricter controls, by the regulation agencies, compared to competitors outside Flanders. The companies need a robust, reliable and efficient emission gas treatment to be combined with their current technique to secure their operations in Flanders.
A feasibility desktopstudy was already performed. This study screened 16 technologies for this use and concluded that 6 technologies show potential to meet the screening criteria: compatibility with running production systems and installations, (expected) effect and efficiency on removal of solvent, ecological and economical sustainability and “user friendly” (working conditions for operators, etc).


The overall goal of this project will be to tackle persistent issues in the use of the solvent in polyurethane coating applications. The main, short term development will consist of pilot scale solvent emission reduction. The secondary, longer term goal comprises the development of new, sustainable solvents for PU dispersions and coating processes to replace the current solvents while striving to preserve existing coating infrastructure.


There is no knowledge gap in the project. No additional partners are required. This document is a notification of a new project.
Please contact Leentje Croes (, +32 472 889 776) if you have questions concerning this notification.


FREE FOAMCompleted 

Functional, Reach compliant, Ecologically and Economically responsible foaming of polymer products


Sustainability and the introduction of new properties (functionalization) are the main drivers to produce foam polymers. The incorporation of gas into the polymer matrix (1) strongly reduces the density resulting in material and energy savings and (2) creates new properties, such as thermal, acoustic and electric insulation, comfort and dimensional stability.

Provided that “microcellular gas cells” can be incorporated into the polymer matrix, the intrinsic mechanical and thermal properties of the basic polymers can be maintained and other properties, such as impact resistance and dimensional stability can even be improved, so that polymer foams may also be applied in structural applications.

To build up foam in a polymer matrix, one may use physical and/or chemical foaming agents or add syntactic microspheres/ granulates that will expand under the influence of temperature. However, several foaming agents and/or microspheres have some major ecological and/or economic drawbacks:

  • The chemical foaming agent ADCA (Azodicarbonamide) that is most often applied in polymer foams has been identified as a SVHC component (list of December 2012) for it can provoke respiratory problems. Recently, ECHA has included ADCA on the draft list for prioritisation.
  • The use of super critical CO2 as a physical foaming agent requires special machinery and a licence.
  • Microspheres or granulates filled with HC (hydrocarbon) contain inflammable gases limiting their application.

To give a competitive and ecologically valid answer to the increasing demand of foam polymer products (strong demand of insulation materials, lighter plastics, etc.), it is necessary to reconsider the foaming technology and the chemical agents that are being used. The economically sound substitution of SVHC foaming agents is an urgent challenge for the plastics processing, textile, coating and other industrial sectors. Substitution not only means a switch from one foaming agent supplied by one producer to another (in as far as they are available for the diverse polymers), but also means the related process and product developments and possible adaptations to the machinery.

Target Group

The research project addresses foam applications in textile and plastics processing sectors:

  • Producers of polymer products applying (or wishing to apply) physical and/or chemical foaming agents: plastics processing companies using extrusion and injection moulding; coating, laminating companies; producers of floor and wall coverings, of PUR or PS foam blocks, packaging products and composites.
  • Polymer producers and chemical companies with micro-encapsulation technology
  • Producers and suppliers of chemicals used polymer foaming (foaming, nucleating agents, foam stabilizers, etc.)
  • Compounders
  • Machine manufacturers and technology suppliers

The research project will perform the following tasks:

  • Screening and characterisation of foaming and nucleating agents that may be used in polymer foaming (thermosets, thermoplastics, composites, coatings)
  • In the case of textile coating: substitution of exothermic foaming agents by endothermic ones of combinations, for both plastisols (PVC) and dispersions (acrylate or polyurethane)
  • In the case of plastics: substitution of exothermic foaming agents by endothermic ones, evaluation of physical foaming, solid state pre-saturation, foam beads and micronized chemical foaming agents.
  • (Semi) industrial trials
  • Characterisation of the foam structures
Project information
Project type: VIS Project
Approved on: 19/03/2015
Duration: 01/06/2015 – 31/05/2017
Total project budget: EUR 618.286
Subsidy: EUR 494.630
Partners: Freefoaming partners


Flame Retardants for optimal plastic applications


A fire hazard occurs when the appropriate conditions are present; a combustible material, oxygen and an ignition source. Plastics have the property that they burn easily, reach high temperatures during combustion and toxic gases are released during combustion. It’s mainly these toxic products that cause fatalities. The most common cause of death by fire, is the release and inhalation of carbon monoxide (CO). Every year, more than 5,000 people die in fires in Europe and more than 4,000 in the United States.

So it is ‘vital’ that the Flemish plastics industry pays attention to this danger, the rules, the incorporation of flame retardants in plastics and the various new technologies that are available for this purpose. In the near future, it will be more and more important to tune the used flame retardant technology to the (plastics)application or product. And as it is with many critical applications, are the requirements, standards and testing becoming increasingly stringent.

Intrinsic flame retardant plastics, plastics in which flame retardant additives are incorporated or that have flame retardant coatings, have a wide range of applications in very different domains, such as electricity, transportation and automotive, foam systems and interior. They work in different ways and in this study we want to list the different possibilities, with emphasis on the latest technologies and features. The advantages and disadvantages of the technologies will be clearly stated and also the economic and regulatory aspects will be taken into account.

The objectives of this feasibility study are:

  • to make an inventory of the available flame retardants, synergistic effects and their usefulness for plastics (processing) companies
  • to make an inventory of the recent research landscape (patent search) to also take into account the latest techniques (the so-called state-of-the-art)
  • to make an inventory of and understand the regional and European regulations, environmental legislation and toxicology
  • to develop a methodology for Flemish companies to help them understand the latest regulations and to have their products comply with these requirements

The study will apply to different products (thermoplastics, thermosets, rubbers) and processing techniques (eg, compounding, injection molding, extrusion, thermoforming). The feasibility study can be followed by one or more follow-up projects to develop new flame-retarding materials or techniques or to implement new techniques within plastic processing companies.

Project information
Project type: VIS project
Approved on: 20/11/2014
Duration: 01/01/2015 – 30/10/2015
Total project budget: EUR 90.357
Subsidy: EUR 72.287
Partners: FPV_divisionFISCH centexbel associatie UGent


Research on the relationship between the health of bee populations and several potential explanatory variables in a spatially explicit way for Belgium



With this study we want to investigate the possible causal relationships between bee mortality and present explanatory variables of natural or anthropogenic character, and this in a spatially explicit way. The research will be conducted through a GIS analysis (Geographical Information System). The goal is to bring scientific clarity about the causes of the increased bee mortality in Belgium, so in the next step appropriate solutions can be sought. Several chemical companies, in the crop protection sector and the pharmaceutical industry, the machine industry and the biotechnology sector, are interested to contribute innovative developments to improve bee health. But first, there must be clarity about the contribution of various factors to the bee problem. Based on these results, an innovation plan will be developed for this broad audience.


Bees are producers of honey, but even more important, they play an essential role in maintaining good biodiversity because they are one of the most important pollinators of many plant species. For example, 80% of all pollination activity is due to bees (source: European Commission). However, all around the world, an increased mortality is found in the bee populations (both honeybees and wild bees in). Bee-experts, scientists and governments from around the world agree that several factors are responsible for the high mortality of bees. The problems with bees can be assigned to diseases and parasites (especially the Varroa mite), extraordinary environmental and climatic conditions such as air pollution and electromagnetic radiation, reduced food supply and reduced nesting, but also agriculture (the use of pesticides) and beekeeping practices. At present there is no scientific consensus on the extent to which the various factors described above contribute to bee mortality. Some researchers point especially to the Varroa mite as the main cause, while other researchers point directly to the plant protection. Still other researchers suggest synergistic and combination effects between the different aspects.

Project information
Project type: VIS Feasability study
Approved on: 19/12/2013
Total project budget: EUR 149.506
Subsidy: EUR 119.604
Partners: phytophar
VITO logo blendsassociatie UGent




The goal of this project is to provide a user-friendly, practical and freely accessible web tool that helps the user to select the most appropriate (Q)SARs for product development, product registration as well as product follow-up. The developed decision tree will give the user an idea of the reliability of the (Q)SARs for testing of a specific compound/substance and, where applicable, indicate what additional information is needed in order to increase reliability. For example, a combination of (Q)SAR systems or additional data or expertise. As a result, the utility of (Q)SARs for a specific application can be estimated. The web tool will be a guide for the correct use of (Q)SARs for the prediction of the toxicity of chemicals. The target group of the web tool are people responsible for the development, registration and monitoring of products from the chemical-producing and chemical-using industries.

Call for companies and other organisations to join the usergroup of the ASOPUS project

The benefits:
Is uw bedrijf of organisatie op de één of andere manier betrokken bij of geïnteresseerd in het gebruik van (Q)SAR modellen, dan kan u in ruil voor een zeer kleine financiële bijdrage deel uitmaken van de gebruikersgroep. Dit biedt u:
o Eerste toegang tot de resultaten van het project, inclusief het uittesten van de tool
o Kans om input te geven in het verloop van het project
o Een lerende omgeving door actieve interactie met de experten

Is your company or organization involved in one way or another, or interested in the use of (Q) SAR models, then you can be part of the ASOPUS usergroup in exchange for a very small financial contribution. This provides you with:
o First access to the results of the project, including the testing of the tool
o Opportunity to provide input during the project
o A learning environment through active interaction with the experts

Project information
Project type: TETRA
Approved on: 20/06/2013
Total project budget: EUR 359.999
Subsidy: EUR 332.999
Partners: thomas_morelogo_UA_hor_kl_0VITO logo blendsArche
User Group: ASOPUS gebruikers