Jan Noordegraaf - Speaker interview

3 – 5 DECEMBER 2024



3 – 5 DECEMBER 2024



Jan Noordegraaf

EU representative for Polyphen International

Jan Noordegraaf, EU representative for Polyphen International

Dutch foam veteran Jan Noordegraaf in recent years has become the representative in Europe for Polyphen, a fire-safe insulation material invented and developed in Australia. He also consults on value chain cooperation and sustainable processes and materials with his own company Innograaf BV and is a board member of the Dutch rubber and polymer industry association NRK.

On the conference program at Foam Expo Europe, 5-7 December in Stuttgart, Jan Noordegraaf will join a panel on innovation in insulation with Sumteq, Armacell, and BEWI. 

Synbra Technology was your company, right?
That used to be my company. Already four years ago, after twenty years as Managing Director, I left Synbra and started my own business. The company was a raw material supplier in polystyrene foam for building and construction, packaging, leisure goods, and a hotspot for innovation. In the course of those years, I have published 29 patents and numerous publications. That has gone on since I left Synbra. I have now invented a new mass application bio-degradable polymer. Really interesting, but there may not be time to give a presentation on that at the Expo.

We will certainly cover bio-degradable polymers at the conference. How did you connect with Polyphen?
Polyphen was always on my radar. They approached me and I became their EU representative. They were very successful in the Far East but were never active in Europe. You have to know the right people in Europe. I think I can help them there, so we teamed up. Polyphen was a small innovation in Australia, which has been rolled out in Thailand, South Africa, and New Zealand. Europe was always a bit too far away I guess.

Polyphen is based on novel polystyrene phenolic resins. What does that mean?
It's a combination of expanded foam and phenolic resin. The big advantage is that you don't need any steam infrastructure. Steam is very expensive because you need natural gas. The cost of making these types of materials is low and you can do it in factories where you don't have a steam infrastructure.

What are the end user applications for Polyphen?
We mainly focus on exterior wall insulation in Germany, but also flat roof insulation. The new legislation will make it difficult for insurers to insure a house if standard foams are used on the flat roof. Nowadays there is so much surface area on flat roofs, that if you put it full with photovoltaic (PV) systems, you have enough energy available to generate electricity for twice the amount of inhabitants in a country. However, insurers do not like risk and prefer not to insure buildings when there are PV systems on those flat roofs. As a result, you now see solar parks where agricultural land is being sacrificed to build solar panels. That trend can be reversed if we have the right insulation underneath solar panels.

A Dutch company, Termokomfort Europe, is the first European Polyphen licensee. What was your role in that?
I knew Termokomfort from the past and brought the two together as the European representative of Polyphen. There are several others also on the brink of signing agreements.

Is that going to be part of your agenda for participating in the Foam Expo? 
I will show the benefits of the application and the fire safety of the material. We want to set up licensees in every European country. The Foam Expo is an ideal location because many people will come and visit and they will see our top material. You see a changing landscape in legislation. Insurers will not insure buildings unless they are properly insulated with fireproof insulation. You can use mineral wool, but that is heavy. With a lightweight foam, you can address both fire safety and smoke toxicity in case of a fire. People have to be able to vacate the building. Not having smoke in the building in a fire will help people save their lives and limbs.

There have been a lot of supply chain problems in the last couple of years. Does that help or hurt your business case?
It helps because we have a simpler process with less complicated exposure to commodity markets. You don't need expensive gas, which tenfolded in price. At certain moments the price of gas, translated in euros per kilo, was higher than the raw material price itself. The vulnerability to energy costs is very high and with Polyphen you don't have that. There are several suppliers for the resin throughout Europe and also for the other raw material, the polystyrene foam. You then just mix them together and the exothermic reaction of the polymerisation of the resin expands the foam in one step, so you go from 140 liters to 5 cubic meters in one step.