Riding a green wave, DuPont Engineering Polymers will launch commercial production of two resins made from renewable resources in 2007.
The materials are new grades of DuPont's Sorona and Hytrel products. Sorona has been made with bio-based materials for several years, but now will be made with Bio-PDO (propanediol), a feedstock made from corn sugar and produced at a plant in Loudon, Tenn. The plant is part of a joint venture between Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont and Tate & Lyle LLC of London. Hytrel is a copolyester elastomer.
The initiative is part of a DuPont effort to derive 25 percent of its sales from products made with renewable resources by 2010, according to Nandan Rao, vice president of global technology for DuPont Performance Materials.
Rao added that DuPont wants to meet 10 percent of its energy needs from renewable resources by 2010 as well.
Bio-PDO consumes 40 percent less energy than standard petrochemical-derived PDO, officials said. The Loudon plant eventually will be capable of producing 100 million pounds of Bio-PDO annually, making it the largest aerobic fermentation plant in the world.
Bio-PDO for Sorona will be polymerized in Kinston, N.C., and then compounded in Parkersburg, W. Va. Bio-PDO used in Hytrel will be processed at a DuPont site in Japan.
The materials can offer performance similar to polybutylene terephthalate and are expected to be used in auto parts, electrical/electronic parts and other industrial and consumer products.
At NPE, held June 19-23 in Chicago, DuPont also announced plans to commercialize a nanocomposite-based resin in 2007. The material will be based on DuPont polyester and can increase heat resistance and strength when used in amounts as low as 1.5 percent.
``There have been a lot of questions around nanocomposites, asking if it's just hype or if there's really something there,'' Rao said. ``We believe these materials can significantly improve properties and have a lot of potential.''
Other new NPE rollouts for DuPont include several new grades of nylon and acetal designed to combat wear and friction in plastic parts.
Two new grades of Zytel HTN-brand high-performance nylon are intended for wear and friction parts that must withstand higher temperatures or more aggressive chemicals than standard nylons and acetals, officials said in a news release.
One new Zytel grade combines very low friction with good wear resistance and contains DuPont's Teflon-brand fluoropolymer in micropowder form.
The second new Zytel offers exceptional abrasive wear resistance and is reinforced with DuPont's Kevlar-brand aramid fiber.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont makes Zytel at U.S. plants, in Tennessee and Virginia, and will open a third site to produce the material in Singapore in 2009.
The new grades of Delrin-brand acetal both contain Teflon micropowder.
The first new grade combines outstanding impact strength and elongation with very low wear and friction. The second new acetal grade also has stiffness, strength and toughness similar to standard medium-viscosity acetals. The Teflon micropowder content is part of an advanced lubricant package in the new material.
DuPont's Performance Materials unit - including nylon and other specialty plastics - posted first-quarter sales of $1.7 billion in 2006, an increase of 6 percent from the year-ago period. However, the unit's first-quarter pretax income fell 35 percent to $137 million, largely because of higher raw material costs.
In the first quarter, Performance Materials generated 22 percent of sales and 10 percent of pretax profit for parent DuPont Co.