DSM has added a polyamide and a vinyl ester to its portfolio of bio-based materials, announcing the new resins in a joint Paris/Detroit launch. Speaking to PlasticsToday from Detroit, where DSM introduced the materials at the SAE 2010 World Congress, DSM also launched the partially bio-derived vinyl ester for composite applications at the JEC Composites Show 2010 in Paris.
At that event, the company's new Palapreg ECO P55-01 was displayed in a new street bench from Benelux firm VelopA-Citystyle. That material is 55% renewably sourced, according to Wilfrid Gambade, DSM's business director composite resins Europe & global markets. Gambade couldn't disclose the renewable resource being tapped for the vinyl ester since the company is in the process of applying for a patent, but he did say that at 55% bio derived, DSM's vinyl ester, which can be used to create composite sheet of bulk molding compounds, has the highest percentage of biobased material on the market.
The polyamide launched by DSM, EcoPaXX, is described a high-performance polyamide. Emile Homsi, VP research & technology DSM Engineering Plastics - Americas, told PlasticsToday that EcoPaXX is a 4/6 polyamide that is sourced 70% from castor oil. Homsi said compared to fossil-fuel based polyamides of a comparable class, EcoPaXX has lower moisture absorption, better dimensional stability, and a higher melting point (250°C). "Actually it's the highest [melting point] in its family of products," Homsi explained. In addition, DSM says the material has exceptional chemical and hydrolysis resistance, as well as a high crystallization rate.
DSM said that material will be commercialized and introduced to the market during the first quarter of 2011, with development work underway in a variety of industries, but an initial emphasis on automotive. In that market, the company is promoting EcoPaXX for several different underhood components, including water pump impellers, air fuel systems, turbocharger end caps, sensors, and oil systems. DSM is also evaluating the material for power tools, furniture, and sports gear. An extrudable grade will be promoted for some packaging applications and textile filaments.
Palapreg is already being used commercially in an automotive application, and DSM believes it will likely see more opportunities in that market, pointing to new sustainability targets coming from the OEMs. "Peugeot Citroen has announced that they'd like to have 20% of their polymers by 2011 be green," Homsi said. "If you really want to meet this target, you have to use materials that go past 50% bio-based. That's the reason why we are very well positioned with Palapreg." Homsi said directly, or through compounders, DSM has contacted around eight automotive OEMs regarding Palapreg, with strong interest shown. The company hopes to expand the proportion of Palapreg that's bio-based, ultimately building to 100%.
Targets like Peugeot Citroen's are seen in a variety of industries, including packaging and building and construction, and DSM believes they point towards an increasing green emphasis. "[Interest in renewably sourced materials] is a megatrend that's happening across all industries," Gambade said, "and we're seeing a lot of people that are already gearing up to implement bio-based solutions in their applications." —Tony Deligio