• Bio-based EPDM from LANXESS for rubber seals production;
• Reduced carbon footprint due to sugar cane;
• Identical properties compared to conventional EPDM.
Specialty chemicals company LANXESS provides its innovative bio-based Keltan Eco EPDM rubber to Freudenberg Sealing Technologies. This well-known global manufacturer of seals and vibration control technology products recently started to produce rubber seals made of Keltan Eco EPDM at its North American affiliate.
Keltan Eco EPDM (ethylene-propylene-diene monomer) rubber contains up to 70 percent of ethylene obtained from sugarcane, and has an impressive set of properties that is in no way inferior to that of “conventional” EPDM. The bio-renewable rubber compound, for which development at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies already began in 2012, addresses the constantly increasing standards on CO2 footprint reduction, especially in the automotive industry, and the overall global pull for more sustainable industrial solutions.
Christian Widdershoven, Head of the business line Keltan Elastomers within LANXESS’ High Performance Elastomers business unit, says: “Besides the well-recognized technical performance of Keltan EPDM polymers, Keltan Eco EPDM reduces our dependency on fossil resources and, because it is obtained from renewable sugarcane, has a significantly better CO2 footprint than petroleum-based polymers.”
Joe Walker, Global Director Advanced Materials Development at Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, explains: “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. 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.”
Applications for bio-based EPDM from LANXESS
Applications for the rubber compound based on Keltan Eco polymers include seals for coolants, steam, synthetic hydraulic fluids, brake fluids and aerospace hydraulic fluids. The newly developed material is capable of withstanding temperatures up to 150 °C, and the material has outstanding compressive stress force retention. The specific Keltan Eco polymers used for Freudenberg Sealing Technologies’ solution to the harsh requirements of fluid transport feature 45 percent bio-renewable content, which ultimately reduces the manufacturing carbon footprint. This further successfully implemented application of Keltan Eco polymers reflects the fact that Keltan EPDM polymers and their “green” variations Keltan Eco EPDM differ just in terms of the origin of the ethylene used in manufacturing making the ecological difference.
Growing interest for sustainable products
For all Keltan Eco types, the switch from the conventional Keltan grade to its bio-based counterpart Keltan Eco imposes no special requirements on users, except a decision to commit to more sustainable products, which perform exactly like their conventional counterparts. The bio-based ethylene contents can be verified by testing method ASTM D-6866. “Currently, six bio-based rubber polymers from LANXESS are available to the market,” says Martin Kleimeier, Marketing Manager for LANXESS business line Keltan Elastomers. “And interest for sustainable products in the industry is growing.” For example, besides applications in fluid transport seals, Keltan Eco 6950 and Keltan Eco 9950 offer both a high molecular weight and a diene content of around nine percent, making them ideal for fabricating foamed sections for automotive body seals. Keltan Eco 5470 for example, as the high ethylene content preference, is used for window profiles already and is under close evaluation for thermoplastic elastomers (TPE-V), artificial track and turf applications.
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan. Freudenberg-NOK is a leading producer of advanced sealing technologies for a variety of markets including: aerospace; agriculture; appliance; automotive; construction; diesel engine; energy; food and beverage; heavy industry; and pharmaceutical. Founded in 1989 under the legal name Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership, Freudenberg-NOK is headquartered in Plymouth, Mich. and operates more than 20 facilities across the Americas.
LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,300 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals. LANXESS is a member of the leading sustainability indices Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI World and DJSI Europe) and FTSE4Good.