Effects of Surfactants on Mechanical and Thermal Properties of Soy-Based Polyurethane Foams


Polyurethane foams are widely used for insulation applications due to their high insulation properties as compared to conventional materials such as extruded polystyrene foam and mineral wool. In this study, soy-based polyurethane foams were prepared using five different surfactants while keeping other components such as soy-based polyol, diisocyanate, catalyst, and blowing agent (water) constant. Prepared samples were tested for mechanical and thermal properties to evaluate the effect of different surfactants used in varying quantities. The morphology of the foam samples was observed using a scanning electron microscope. Seventeen fold reduction in the cell size was observed with an increase in the amount of surfactant from 0.5 to 5.0 g. Samples with higher amounts of surfactant also exhibited a higher number of closed cells. Better thermal insulation was observed for samples with 2.0 and 5.0 g of surfactant as compared to samples with 0.5 g of surfactant. A similar trend was observed in the mechanical strength, moisture absorbance, and density of the fabricated foam samples.


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Second Department


Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for Research in Energy and Environment (CREE)

Second Research Center/Lab

Center for High Performance Computing Research

Third Research Center/Lab

Intelligent Systems Center


Published online: 12 Mar 2020

Keywords and Phrases

Cell density; environmentally friendly blowing agent; polyurethane foams; structural foams; surface tension; surfactant

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

0021-955X; 1530-7999

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2020 The Authors, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2020