Arkema has turned ecotechnologies into reality with increasingly efficient materials that are key to the competitiveness of its downstream markets: the growing use of renewable raw materials, thermoplastics and nanostructured composites for lighter cars and aircraft, as well as solutions for storing energy and improving the yield of solar photovoltaic devices. Arkema’s biosourced polymers and ultra high performance materials are helping meet all these challenges. At K 2010, Arkema is showcasing its extensive range of specialty polymers, the concrete embodiment of its R&D drive to develop innovative chemicals that increasingly focus on the challenges of sustainable development.
Developing chemicals from plants
Bio-sourced plastics today account for 30% of Arkema’s technical polymer business, taking up around 2/3rds of its R&D activity. These plastics feature properties that are equivalent or superior to those of their fossil-fuel-based counterparts.
Arkema’s expertise in castor oil chemistry for over 60 years with its Rilsan® polyamide 11, 100% derived from this chemistry, recently helped bring out four new polymers:
- Pebax® Rnew, a biosourced elastomer up to 90% derived from castor oil,
- Platamid® Rnew, the first hotmelt adhesive entirely of renewable origin,
- Rilsan® Clear Rnew, the first transparent 54% biosourced polyamide
- Rilsan® HT, an ultra tough high temperature polymer fulfilling today’s general need for lighter materials.
An illustration of Arkema’s R&D in biosourced polymers…
Rilsan® HT, the latest arrival in this family, is one of the rare polymers based on polyphthalamide (PPA) capable of replacing metal used for pipes subjected to high temperatures in automotive under-the-hood applications. The Rilsan® HT resin offers another unique characteristic for PPA-based materials, flexibility, thereby opening up hitherto inconceivable possibilities to replace metal. Rilsan® HT pipes help cut down manufacturing costs by up to 50%, and significantly reduce the weight of many engine parts compared to metal assemblies. Furthermore, Arkema offers a unique range of polyphthalamides accommodating every converting technique (extrusion, blow moulding and injection moulding), which allows much freedom in terms of assembling moulded components (connectors) with extruded components (flexible pipes). Rilsan® HT resins contain up to 70% biosourced carbon, and therefore fulfil the increasingly stringent environmental objectives of the automotive sector.
To enable its customer to identify products derived wholly or in part from renewable raw materials (over 20% carbon of non-fossil origin), Arkema has devised the “Arkema Renewables” label. The evaluation of the products’ renewable carbon content is carried out by an independent body based on the ASTM 6866 standard.
Innovating with ultra high performance materials
Already present in the ultra high performance materials sector with world-renowned products and tradenames such as Kynar® fluorinated polymers, Rilsan® polyamides, and Pebax® thermoplastic elastomers, Arkema is now developing new polymers with outstanding properties, the result of innovation from its R&D or the acquisition of new technologies.
Several of these materials already have industrial applications, in particular transparent polyamides, high temperature polyamides, specialty materials dedicated to photovoltaics (fluorinated polymers, PMMA, and EVA copolymers), and OXPEKK® polyether ketone ketone.
An illustration of Arkema’s expansion in ultra high performance materials: PEKK, polymer of the extreme…
In line with its ongoing development strategy in performance materials, Arkema acquired at the beginning of 2009 the American company Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), which manufactures polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), ultra high performance technical polymers marketed under the tradename OXPEKK®.
Among the family of thermoplastic polymers, PEKK boasts one of the highest performances: it features outstanding properties, in particular excellent continuous high temperature resistance (up to +260°C) and resistance to chemicals, unrivalled abrasion resistance, and inherent fire resistance. It has already found many applications, in particular in aerospace, oil prospection, and the medical sector.
Fluoropolymer materials: a valuable offering for green technologies
Thanks to their outstanding properties, Arkema’s polymers, in particular Kynar® PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride), are assisting with the development of photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion batteries by enhancing their performance.
From the very beginning of lithium technology, Arkema has worked closely with scientists to design batteries with higher charge density. This has resulted in Kynar® and Kynar® Flex specific resin grades that are excellent polymers for use in both polymer and liquid cell lithium batteries.
Of special interest is Arkema’s new binder for lithium-ion batteries, Kynar® HSV 900 PVDF, a high molecular weight resin that provides superior adhesion with reduced loading in electrode construction. This grade enhances the performance of both lithium phosphates and metal oxides. Kynar® resins are highly stable polymers that offer an exceptional balance of performance properties (high electrochemical, thermal and chemical stability, excellent adhesion within electrodes, high purity).
Green technology also means photovoltaic energy, in which Arkema has become a leader in supplying ultra tough Kynar® film for use in the multilayer backsheet of PV panels. Developed by Arkema’s R&D, these polyvinylidene difluoride films are produced using a very flexible and cost-effective blown film patented technology. This Arkema technology allows mass production of quality and high durability films that are now widely used in the photovoltaic industry.
Kynar® Film combines many benefits: permanent resistance to sunlight and temperature variations, full UV opacity, good barrier to moisture, and stability of white color to help reflect light towards the silicon.
K 2010 is also an opportunity for Arkema to present the following new developments:
- A new brandname for its polyamide 12 and a new look for its polyamide 11 identity,
-Durastrength® 365, a unique innovation in the acrylic impact modifier market for PVC window profiles offering an unsurpassed cost/performance balance,
- Altuglas® HFI 10 Super Matt, a new grade from Altuglas International, an Arkema subsidiary, which features exceptional satin finish and very good scratch resistance,
- New Rilsan® Clear grade with an improved impact resistance for safety optical applications,
- A new Kynar Flex® PPA grade used as a process aid for polyolefin resins (LLDPE, HDPE, PP) suitable for many industrial applications including film extrusion, blow-moulding, and pipe extrusion.
Source: Arkema, press release, 2010-10-26.