HFC Phase-out 2021

Frequently asked questions about the upcoming phase-out of HFCs in spray foam insulation in Canada.

Effective January 1, 2021 hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) will be phased-out in Canada.

Under the amendment of the Montreal Protocol, Canada and other developed nations have agreed to reduce high Global Warming Potential (GWP) substances by eliminating HFC consumption.

HFC gases are widely used in refrigerants, air conditioners and in blowing agents for extruded polystyrene (XPS) boards and spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation.

What are the alternatives available for HFCs?

In spray polyurethane foam insulation, HFC blowing agents will be replaced by hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). HFOs are an approved substitute, have an ultra-low GWP of 1, and are non-ozone depleting.

What is Global Warming Potential (GWP)?

GWP is a measure of how much heat a substance can trap in the atmosphere. The more heat the substance traps, the more potential it has to contribute to global warming. It’s measured relative to CO2 which has a GWP of 1.

What is the GWP threshold for blowing agents?

As required by The Montreal Protocol, all approved HFO blowing agent replacements must have a GWP of 150 or lower.

What are the differences in foams made with HFCs and HFOs?

Both gases are used in SPF blowing agents to expand the foam to its rigid structure, and create the foam’s insulating properties. HFO blowing agents have a GWP of 1, while HFCs have high GWPs ranging from approx. 800-1400. SPF that deploy HFO blowing agents must meet all closed-cell SPF building code requirements as outlined in CAN/ULC-S705.1.

I’m an architect. What happens if I’m specifying a project that’s due for construction after January 1, 2021?

Products with HFC blowing agents will be no longer be permitted to be imported or manufactured in Canada after January 1, 2021. All projects that specify SPF insulation should take this upcoming phase-out into consideration. The conversion from a HFC to HFO product is likely to impact aspects of the of the project, including R-value and pricing.

I’m a SPF contractor. When’s the best time to transition to HFO?

We strongly advise SPF contractors to transition to HFO alternatives as soon as possible in order to prepare your team with the required training to install the new formulas. After January 1, 2021, HFC foam will no longer be approved to install in Canada.

What are the HFO spray foam insulation products available?

Elastochem produces Insulthane® Extreme which is formulated with Honeywell Solstice® Liquid Blowing Agent. It’s Canada’s first certified HFO closed-cell SPF and has been readily-available to the Canadian market since 2016. It’s widely used in commercial, industrial and residential projects across the country. It meets and exceeds all building code standards as outlined in CAN/ULC-S705.1.

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