What is Basotect melamine foam?
by Duncan Geddes
Basotect® (BASF registered trademark) is an open-celled melamine-formaldehyde foam. Melamine-formaldehyde is an amino polymer, which is defined as a polymer formed by the interaction of amines or amides with aldehydes (the two most common amino polymers are urea-formaldehyde and melamine-formaldehyde).
Melamine foam is characterised by its open-celled intricate mesh structure which provides several useful features for fire safety, acoustic and thermal insulation as well as cleaning.
Basotect melamine foam properties
Flame and heat resistance
Basotect’s high working temperatures and fire safety characteristics are due to the high nitrogen content of the thermoset resin.
The foam does not melt or drip when it comes into contact with flames but chars and creates a solid protective barrier. Due to its high fire safety performance (which meets BS476 Parts6/7, Class 0) and good sound absorption it is suitable for use in the building and construction industry.
The foam is also used in transport applications where it also meets the stringent fire safety standards of rail and aircraft authorities.
Acoustic absorption and insulation
Melamine’s high open-cell content makes it ideal for acoustic insulation. The open-cell structure allows greater penetration of sound waves into the foam, thus minimising surface reflection.
The greater the thickness and surface area of the foam, the more sound absorption the foam offers. Optimum sound absorption can be achieved by using a pyramidal or wedge shape structure to further increase the surface area of the insulating foam.
The thermal insulation properties of melamine foam, combined with its high heat resistance, makes it suitable for wall insulation, hot water tank and chemical plant insulation, and pipe insulation applications.
The nominal density range of melamine foam is 8 to 11Kg/m3, but ultra lightweight foam with densities as low as 6Kg/m3 can be manufactured.
Melamine’s abrasive resistance makes it suitable as a cleaning foam for removing dirt and grime from various surfaces such as glass, ceramic oven tops, wall and floor tiles, doors, car and bicycle wheel rims etc.
Surfaces susceptible to scratching, like varnished surfaces, should not be cleaned with melamine foams. Best results are achieved if the foam is slightly moistened with water, no detergents or proprietary cleaning agents are required.
How melamine is produced and manufactured
How melamine foam is produced
Melamine is produced by heating urea in the presence of ammonia at high temperatures and pressures. The reaction involves the simultaneous dehydration and hydration of urea to form cyanamide and ammonium carbamate according to the following formulation:-
2NH2CONH2 (urea) → NH2CN (cyanamide) + NH2COONH4 ( ammonium carbamate)
Trimerisation of the cyanamide leads to melamine which has a ring structure and is a crystalline solid.
The melamine foam manufacturing process
The manufacturing process for the formation of melamine foam is based on an aqueous or alcoholic solution/dispersion which contains melamine-formaldehyde precondensate, an emulsifier, blowing agent and a hardener/curing agent.
Foaming and crosslinking of the resulting mixture to form a thermoset foam is carried out using high frequency radiation energy. After tempering of the foam, it is compressed one or more times to soften it and make it more flexible/elastic.
In the solid form, melamine-formaldehyde resin forms a very hard and rigid thermoset polymer with good abrasion resistance. When it is foamed by the manufacturing process described above, it results in a fine, low-density open-celled foam which is smooth and flexible whilst still retaining good abrasive properties.
Professional Basotect melamine foam solutions
We specialise in providing Basotect foam solutions for a range of applications, such as improving acoustic insulation.
Contact us today to discuss your requirements.