Arkema Heats Up HVAC Industry; Aims To Cool Global Warming

Sept. 8, 2009
CP 50 company focuses on energy efficiency.

Philadelphia-based Arkema, which consists of three businesses — vinyl products, industrial chemicals and performance products — sees hot prospects in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sector as well as in cooler roofing.

Testifying to its interest in HVAC, Thomas Werkema, director of government activities for Arkema Inc.’s North American Fluorochemicals Division, was installed as director-at-large of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

As a director-at-large, Werkema is the first representative from a chemical company to be named to ASHRAE’s Board of Directors in many years.

"Internationally, the focus on real energy-efficient building performance poses both a challenge and an opportunity," says Werkema. "Climate change can best be addressed by our emphasis on standards and codes. Business opportunities for Arkema and the refrigerants industry are enhanced as societies around the world pursue energy efficiency, which means our industry's goals are aligned with ASHRAE's goals.”

One of the business opportunities is the upcoming EPA-mandated phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Part of the Clean Air Act, the phase-out stipulates that after Jan. 1,  2010, chemical manufacturers may still produce R-22 refrigerant to service existing equipment, but not for use in new equipment. As a result, HVAC system manufacturers will only be able to use pre-existing supplies of R-22 to produce new air conditioners and heat pumps. These existing supplies would include R-22 recovered from existing equipment and recycled.

To assist customers, Arkema Inc. launched a new Web site for its Forane refrigerants business. The new site (, offers a special section dedicated to explaining the upcoming phase-out of HCFC-22 refrigerant, details about Arkema’s Forane Refrigerant Reclaim Program (for recovery of R-22 refrigerant from existing systems), and information about R-22 retrofit refrigerants such as Forane427A and Forane407A.

“The refrigerant industry is becoming more complex every day with changes to products, regulations and markets,” says Craig Thomas, business manager for Arkema’s North American refrigerants business. “The continuous change in the refrigerant business places a premium on access to up-to-date, accurate information at customers’ fingertips. Our new Forane refrigerants website is highly functional, intuitive, and designed to help our customers navigate, literally, through many aspects of our industry,” he noted.

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In other environmental news, Arkema recently launched its Kynar Aquatec FMA (fluoropolymer-modified acrylic) resins, designed for compliant cool-roof coatings and protective topcoats for exterior building products. This waterborne acrylic-modified PVDF (poly vinylidene fluoride) polymer technology extends the effective lifespan of solar reflective (cool) roof coatings and extends long-term weather protection and stay-clean properties for roofs and exterior building components, according to the company.

Kynar Aquatec FMA resins are supplied as aqueous latexes and do not require baking, which means they can be either field or factory applied.

Cool roofing fits in nicely with the global drive for energy conservation and environmental improvement. During a recent climate change symposium in London, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu commented that new research from the Berkeley Lab indicates that light-colored roofs could slow the rate of global warming, shifting temperature projections by as much as 11 years.