Renewable products have become reality in a big way for DuPont Co.
We're focused on reducing dependence on fossil fuels, finding alternative sources of energy and increasing the efficiency of our energy use, engineering polymers global marketing director BjÃ¶rn Hedlund said during a press conference at K 2010.
At the Dusseldorf event, DuPont showcased a range of renewable materials, including Hytrel RS, a renewably sourced thermoplastic elastomer that is being used in air-bag systems for the first time. The Hytrel grade used in air bags contains at least 35 percent renewable content by weight. DuPont developed the application for Hytrel in partnership with safety systems maker Takata-Petri AG of Aschaffenburg, Germany.
The newly developed grade of Hytrel RS for air-bag systems constitutes one of the latest technological advances in the area of renewably sourced, high-performance polymers, DuPont officials said in a K 2010 news release. It's based on a thermoplastic ether-ester elastomer with hard segments of polybutylene terephthalate and soft segments that contain a polyether derived from non-food biomass.
Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont is also making progress with its Sorona-brand bioplastic, said engineering polymers global business manager Marsha Craig.
There's market pull in general across the board for renewable materials, Craig said at K, which ran Oct. 27 to Nov. 2. Major automotive OEMs are looking at these products to reach their sustainability goals.
Makers of computers and hand-held electronic devices also are showing increasing interest in renewables, she added.
DuPont officials also touted grades of the firm's Zytel Plus and Zytel HTN nylon resins, which if used in engine parts can reduce auto weight by more than 20 pounds per vehicle. Based on a projection of 72 million engine builds for 2011, using the DuPont materials could eliminate the use of 3 million barrels of crude oil, officials said.
These new polymers further enable the auto industry to adopt lightweight plastics and eliminate metal while helping to ensure that components will last the service life of the vehicle, they said.
In the area of photovoltaics a growing market segment for DuPont the firm has introduced two specific grades of Rynite-brand PET. The new materials are intended to reduce the total cost of manufacturing, assembling and installing photovoltaic systems. By doing so, they are helping the photovoltaic industry reach grid parity faster, DuPont said.
When used in photovoltaic applications, the polymers can help increase design flexibility for greater ease of assembly and installation. They also can provide an opportunity for functional integration and when produced in large numbers can offer one of the most cost-competitive methods of production through injection molding and extrusion, officials added.
Using Rynite PET for frames ensures resistance to ultraviolet rays, heat, wind and significant snow loads, as well as enhanced durability and high surface finish, they said. Earlier this year, greater photovoltaic demand led DuPont to start up a second line making fluoropolymer resins in Fayetteville, N.C. Polyvinyl fluoride resin made on the new line will be used in production of DuPont's Tedlar-brand PVF film.
Hedlund, a DuPont veteran of more than 25 years, added that 2010 is a great time for the plastics industry.
I've been in the industry for a long time, and it really feels like a new era is starting, he said.