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One More Step Towards a Circular Economy for Thermal Insulation Materials - Development of Composites Highly Filled with Waste Polyurethane (PU) Foam for Potential Use in the Building Industry


[ 1 ] Instytut Technologii Materiałów, Wydział Inżynierii Mechanicznej, Politechnika Poznańska | [ P ] employee

Scientific discipline (Law 2.0)

[2.8] Mechanical engineering

Year of publication


Published in


Journal year: 2023 | Journal volume: vol. 16 | Journal number: iss. 2

Article type

scientific article

Publication language


  • recycling
  • circular economy
  • composites
  • polypropylene
  • polyurethane foam
  • waste

EN The rapid development of the building sector has created increased demand for novel materials and technologies, while on the other hand resulting in the generation of a severe amount of waste materials. Among these are polyurethane (PU) foams, which are commonly applied as thermal insulation materials. Their management is a serious industrial problem, due to, for example, their complex chemical composition. Although some chemical and thermochemical methods of PU foam recycling are known, their broader use is limited due to requirements related to the complexity and safety of their installation, thus implicating high costs. Therefore, material recycling poses a promising alternative. The incorporation of waste PU foams as fillers for polymer composites could make it possible to take advantage of their structure and performance. Herein, polypropylene-based composites that were highly filled with waste PU foam and modified using foaming agents were prepared and analyzed. Depending on the foam loading and the foaming agent applied, the apparent density of material was reduced by as much as 68%. The efficient development of a porous structure, confirmed by scanning electron microscopy and high-resolution computed micro-tomography, enabled a 64% decrease in the thermal conductivity coefficient. The foaming of the structure affected the mechanical performance of composites, resulting in a deterioration of their tensile and compressive performance. Therefore, developing samples of the analyzed composites with the desired performance would require identifying the proper balance between mechanical strength and economic, as well as ecological (share of waste material in composite, apparent density of material), considerations.

Date of online publication


Pages (from - to)

782-1 - 782-22





Article Number: 782

License type

CC BY (attribution alone)

Open Access Mode

open journal

Open Access Text Version

final published version

Date of Open Access to the publication

at the time of publication

Ministry points / journal


Impact Factor

3.748 [List 2021]

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