When builders talk about spray-foam insulation, we assume they’re referring to a two-part polyurethane compound. But not always, as a recent Q&A demonstrates.
Amanda Cordano launched an interesting but inconclusive conversation when she asked for advice on “Tripolymer product,” which had been told was a green product with no health risks.
Cordano found nothing to contradict that in her queries on the web, but she points out that all the sites she found were sponsored by foam companies. “Do you have any information on the potential downside of this foam?” she asks.
Which ‘tripolymer’ is it?
The first step might be to identify exactly what Cordano is asking about. “Tripolymer” is a product of C.P. Chemical Co. of White Plains, NY, marketed as Tripolymer 105. The company says it is composed of “modified phenolic based methylene bound copolymers” that were first developed by C.P. Chemical in 1966 as a fire resistant thermal and acoustic insulation.
According to C.P. Chemical, the foam won’t melt, and won’t support combustion. Its combustion byproducts are “significantly less toxic” than those of white pine.
Like polyurethane insulation, Tripolymer is a two-part compound. Unlike polyurethane foams, Tripolymer 105 does not expand as it’s applied. It solidifies within 30 seconds and has a density of between 0.8 lb. and 1.3 lb. per cubic foot. Cured Tripolymer has a perm rating of 15.5 to 16.9 per inch and R-5.1 per inch. The company says it shows no thermal degradation over time.
Here’s where the confusion sets in.
Cassie responds that tripolymer is urea-formaldehyde insulation. “It is plastic. Will not burn, but it will melt and the fumes will kill you. Recently marketed in Canada under the name Retro foam. Once the Canadian government found out, the company was shut down and is now in a 500…
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