A foaming technology that provides a low-cost alternative to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from product development firm Cambridge Consultants can potentially eliminate harmful emissions from aerosols in everyday items such as shaving foam and hair mousse, the company says.
By doing away with flammable propellants such as VOCs, the technology can also to transform supermarket shelves, replacing rows of cylindrical aluminum aerosol cans with low-cost, recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, Cambridge Consultants says.
Plus, the smaller air bubbles in the foam give a smoother texture for products like shaving foam or whipped cream than conventional techniques, according to the company.
Traditionally, a VOC — typically propane and/or butane — is liquefied inside an aerosol can together with a foaming agent and the solution to be dispensed. The VOCs are liquefied at the pressure within the can, typically around four bar. When the valve is opened, the mixture is expelled through the nozzle and the VOC flashes off as a vapor. The expanding gas puffs the foaming agent up to a froth.
Cambridge Consultants’ new foaming technology does not require dissolved or liquefied gases such as VOCs, CO2 or nitrous oxide. The company says the foam is formed with compressed air or nitrogen. The bubbles produced have a diameter of less than 40 microns giving a very creamy texture.
The company says the cost is lower than traditional products and they can be manufactured on a standard aerosol production line.
VOCs contribute to the creation of ground-level ozone, which has been linked to respiratory problems. In California, the state EPA has placed limits on the amount of VOCs that can be included in aerosol products such as deodorants and antiperspirants. Europe has limited the levels of VOCs in paint products and Cambridge Consultants says similar legislation is imminent for deodorants and antiperspirants.
Mark Nicmanis, senior technologist at Cambridge Consultants, says the technology gives fast-moving consumer goods companies the opportunity to differentiate themselves by producing foaming products that are traditionally difficult to foam such as foundation cream or insulating materials.
The foaming technology could also be incorporated into an appliance — or into a disposable pod for use in conjunction with an appliance — to create milkshakes, ice cream or milk froth for coffee machines. The company says it is equally applicable to dispensing systems for things such as soap or shaving foam that use a motion sensor to automatically dispense a rich creamy foam when a hand is detected under the appliance nozzle.