Bio-based EPDM elastomer targets fluid applications

Responding to increasingly stringent emissions standards and the push for sustainability solutions, Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies has developed an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) elastomer compound based on sugarcane feedstock.

Bio-based EPDM employs sugarcane as a raw material.

The bio-renewable thermoset elastomer, for which development began in 2012, is made from a polymer produced via a process that begins with sugarcane. A sugarcane-derived ethanol raw material is converted into ethylene which forms a substantial portion of the base polymer. The sugarcane base allows the material to be 45 percent bio-renewable.

"We had been working with polymer suppliers for ways to reduce our carbon footprint but the polymer offerings lacked the specific characteristics we needed for our advanced manufacturing processes," said Joe Walker, global director, Advanced Materials Development. "So we initiated a project to research the area, and we were able to develop a material that can be used in our next generation injection molding process."

Freudenberg-NOK has focused much of their next generation manufacturing technology on a single cavity, net shape injection molding process which has resulted in reduced waste and energy demand and overall improved manufacturing control, yielding improved quality. This new concept is becoming a staple at Freudenberg-NOK. The advent of the new, more eco-friendly EPDM rubber is a natural fit for the machines.

Applications for the elastomer include seals for coolants, steam, synthetic hydraulic fluids, brake fluids and aerospace hydraulic fluids (phosphate esters). The newly developed material is capable of withstanding temperatures up to 150°C, and the material reportedly has outstanding compressive stress force retention.

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