Arkema and lightweight materials
Today, companies must abide by new increasingly stringent environmental regulations. Carmakers and OEMs now have to undertake to reduce the carbon footprint of their vehicles. To fulfil this requirement, Arkema develops high performance thermoplastics as substitutes to glass or metal. The objective: to reduce the weight of structures and help minimize their gas emissions.
Reducing the weight of transport equipment (cars, trucks, trains, boats and airplanes in particular) is an efficient solution to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The use of parts made of thermoplastics and composite materials in the structure of a vehicle or in its engine generates substantial weight reductions compared to similar parts made of metal or glass.
The key challenge for Arkema is to develop thermoplastic and composite materials capable of replacing metal and glass and of delivering high performance in terms of:
- Reliability and safety
- Resistance to impact and to temperature variations
- Straightforward processing
- Manufacturing costs
Arkema, a pioneer in ultra high performance thermoplastics for transportation
As the market leader in specialty polymers and PMMA "acrylic glass", Arkema recently brought out innovations in both product lines to provide industry with materials that fulfil their specification requirements for lightweight materials that are as effective as metal, glass or rubber:
Temperature constraints: to be able to use thermoplastics in an extreme heat environment, Arkema has developed Rilsan® HT flexible polyphthalamides. This biosourced polyamide based on polyphthalamide (PPA) is flexible and can replace metal or rubber in several under-the-hood flexible pipe applications thanks to its resistance to high temperatures. An automotive part made of Rilsan® HT resin is up to six times lighter than a metal part.
- Resistance and transparency constraints: glazing is a key element in car manufacture. The materials used for this have to be lightweight and high performance. Accordingly, Arkema has developed Altuglas® ShieldUp, a nanostructured acrylic sheet that is transparent, extremely resistant to impact, and 50% lighter than glass.
- Durability and sturdiness constraints for exacting markets: to replace metal in cutting-edge sectors such as civil and military aeronautics, Arkema has developed the Kepstan® PEKK product range (polyether ketone ketone). This polymer for the extremes, while lighter, features the same properties as metal in terms of abrasion and impact resistance as well as non-combustibility.