THE OZONE LAYER AND PENTANE:
A non-CFC expansion agent called pentane is used during EPS production to expand the polystyrene granules into the cellular structure. Although it is a subject we cleared up at the beginning of this publication we would like to insist again that EPS products do not and have never contained either CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) or HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons) gases since the expansion agent is pentane.
Pentane is a slightly volatile liquid that is continually being formed in natural processes, in the digestive systems of animals and in the anaerobic decomposition of vegetable matter by micro-organisms, for example. It belongs to the same chemical family as other known gases like methane, ethane, propane and butane which are used as heating fuel.
Because of its low stability, released during the EPS manufacturing process it quickly turns into carbon dioxide and water in a photochemical reaction.
Since it does not contain chlorine, pentane can do no harm to the ozone layer as opposed to CFCs and HCFC expansion agents.
Although the pentane released during the production and transformation of EPS does contribute to man-mode emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) - these are only to be found in the 0-0,2% band. To obtain a clearer idea of this situation, consider the fact that much greater quantities of methane are generated from the decomposition of domestic waste. Professor Hocking of the University of Victoria in Canada has recently shown that the methane released by decomposing standard-size paper cups is 50 times greater than the quantity of pentane given off in processing EPS cups.
In spite of the low quantities of pentane released, the EPS industry is researching into ways of reducing it even further. The quantity of CO2 generated by the pentane used in the production of EPS insulation products is insignificant when compared with avoided emissions: the carbon dioxide given off is the same as that which is saved in less than a week by installing EPS insulation.
Pentane is not considered to be a substance hazardous to health by most all health authorities.