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Bio-Based PEI Matches Performance, Processability of Incumbent Ultem Material

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Sabic’s ISCC+ certified resin is a potential replacement for sulfone polymers in automotive, medical, and consumer electronics applications.

Sabic has launched a portfolio of bio-based Ultem resins that offer sustainability benefits while delivering performance and processability that is identical to the incumbent Ultem material. The new polyetherimide (PEI) reportedly is the first certified renewable, high-performance, amorphous polymer available in the industry.

Using a mass balance approach, for every 100 kg of Ultem PEI resin produced, Sabic replaces 25.5 kg of fossil-based feedstocks with bio-based materials derived from waste or residue, such as crude tall oil from the wood industry. The drop-in option for current Ultem materials can support customers’ sustainability goals for challenging applications where high temperature, dimensional stability, or demanding mechanical performance is required.

Potential markets and applications for these resins include consumer electronics, such as wearables and mobile devices; under-the-hood automotive parts such as connectors, sensors, and valves; aerospace interior panels and trim; surgical devices and sterilization trays; and electrical/electronics, such as the 5G networking infrastructure. To help fulfill the regulatory requirements of these industries, the new Ultem materials offer compliance with global drinking water standards, Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR 25.853), and food contact according to FDA.

“The bio-based feedstocks used in the new Ultem materials do not alter performance properties, which include long-term high-temperature performance, chemical resistance, excellent mechanical and structural properties, dimensional and hydrolytic stability, excellent processability, and inherent flame retardance,” said Sabic’s Greg Stoddard, Director, Technology & Innovation. “With the same reliable mechanical properties as their fossil-based counterparts, bio-based Ultem grades can be considered as an alternative material to traditional Ultem resins or sulfone polymers such as PSU, PESU, and PPSU.”

“Our new bio-based Ultem resin platform offers customers a seamless way to integrate sustainability into their highly demanding applications,” added Scott Fisher, Director, Business Management, Ultem Resins and Additives. “Because these products perform in the same way and maintain the same regulatory listings as traditional Ultem resins, adjustments to product designs and manufacturing processes are not required."

Also, customers can be confident about the environmental benefits of these materials. Sabic’s bio-based Ultem resins can potentially reduce a carbon footprint by up to 10% compared with fossil-based incumbent grades, and have earned the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus (ISCC+) designation.

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