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PEKK Kepstan®, pushing back the boundaries

Among high-performance polymers, PEKK (Poly-Ether-Ketone-Ketone) offers exceptional resistance to extreme environments, like those in aerospace and oil exploration. Arkema’s commercial production is a success and it’s ready for take off!

Lightweight, strong and resistant to (almost) everything

PEKK Kepstan®

PEKK has an extremely high melting point (300°C to 360°C depending on the grade) and provides excellent resistance to chemicals and abrasion.

 

Reinforced with carbon fibers, it is as rigid as some metals, but very much lighter. It is non-flammable and doesn’t generate toxic fumes. All this plus it is easily shaped above its melting point. More conventionally, it can also be injected into molds or extruded to produce tubes or films.

Arkema, world leader of PEKK

PEKK was invented in the 1960s as part of the Apollo space program. But commercial production requires a complex process and heavy financial investment. Following the 2009 acquisition of American company Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), Arkema took up the PEKK challenge.

In partnership with chemicals company PCAS, the Group set up Europe’s first industrial production facility for this polymer in France. After several years of investment in R&D, the manufacturing process is now commercial. A second even larger production unit is currently under development in the US.

From commercial aircraft to offshore oil platforms

PEKK can replace some metal components in highly demanding environments to achieve economies in weight. Starting with aerospace–the polymer can easily withstand the extreme conditions found in motors.

 

And it is being considered in the fuselage design for a new generation of commercial aircraft.

 

Another important market is offshore oil and gas. Finally, it turns out that PEKK is fully compatible with additive manufacturing (3D printing) for small and medium runs.

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