Joint venture with Chinese university / PEEK - the Heat Shield Plastic
Geschrieben am 25-10-2006
Dusseldorf (ots) - Flight LH 430 from Frankfurt to Chicago.
Joachim Menger, who works for an international electronics company,
takes a glance at his business papers. Suddenly, the Airbus
encounters turbulence. Please fasten your seat belts. Nothing to be
worried about, says a gentle voice from the cockpit. The business
traveler tightens his belt and looks out the window. The wings are
really taking a shaking, he tells the passenger sitting next to him.
Its amazing what punishment aluminum can take. Not to mention
plastics, replies his neighbor. Menger looks puzzled.
- Cross-reference: Picture "PEEK in aviation" is available at
Im serious, assures his fellow traveler, who introduces himself
as a plastics engineer, a specialty polymer has even replaced some
of the aluminum in engine applications. Plastics make it possible to
reduce weight by over 50 percent. Polyetheretherketone, or PEEK* for
short, is the name of the plastic that can compete with metal in a
number of applications. And it can withstand icy temperatures, as
well as extreme heat or high mechanical stress. Uwe Kannengießer from
Degussa AG,Dusseldorf, Germany, explains: PEEK is able to retain its
long-term heat resistance at 260 degrees Celsius [500 degrees
*PEEK is the official abbreviation for polyetheretherketone
pursuant to ISO 1043
This is a value that no plastic has ever attained before. But
thats not all. At 343 degrees Celsius [649 degrees Fahrenheit],
PEEK will melt without disintegrating. Thats important in order to
get the material into the proper shape in an injection-molding or
thermoforming process, says the expert, who is responsible for the
market development of new polymers in the High Performance Polymers
(HP) Business Unit. Decomposition begins to set in only above 400
degrees Celsius [752 degrees Fahrenheit]. Thats a record high that
no other thermoplastic polymer has yet achieved.
- Cross-reference: Pictures of the "PEEK-production in China" are
In the late 1980s, various companies throughout the world began to
develop high-temperature-resistant polymers in order to achieve
increasingly higher temperature compatibilities. Originally a
laboratory curiosity, PEEK made its debut on the market some 20 years
ago in niche applications. Production was modest at first, amounting
to 200 to 300 metric tons per year, but the worldwide market volume
has since grown by a factor of about 10.
The all-inclusive package for a variety of applications
Christian Bierhaus, who is responsible for strategic projects in
Degussas HP Business Unit, sees a plausible reason for the rapidly
growing demand: The fields of application are extremely diverse and
attractive. The plastics potential is not limited to its high
continuous service temperature. It is PEEKs complete combination of
properties that makes it unbeatable. PEEK stands out, for example,
because of its high physical stability and rigidity. In addition, it
exhibits good electrical insulating properties together with
excellent chemical resistance. Professor Gerhard Wegner, director of
the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany,
stresses the importance of the newcomer: It is undoubtedly a
promising material that is extremely interesting in particular for a
whole set of high-tech applications.
A descriptive example can be found in the growing number of
automotive applications ranging from sealing caps in vacuum pumps
to swash plates in electrical parking brakes and stop disks in
couplings and gears.
- Cross-reference: Picture "PEEK application" is available at
Since the components keep getting smaller as the space available
for them keeps being reduced, they have to transmit large forces on
increasingly smaller surfaces. Only high wear-resistant parts made of
PEEK are up to these challenges. Independently of these
considerations, PEEK is also desirable for technical and economic
reasons. In contrast to metal parts for example, gearwheels and other
components made of polymers are easy to manufacture by injection
molding. Since they contain graphite as a filler, they are
self-lubricating, eliminating the need for additional lubricants and
substantially reducing maintenance costs.
Metals pushed aside
PEEK is also in demand in the aviation and aerospace industries
for applications such as cable sheaths. Cable harnesses are
frequently laid within wings,where they have to withstand very high
vibrations. The cables can move differently relative to one another
or to the carrier. Abrasion resistance is therefore critically
important to keep the cable sheathing from fraying. Another argument
for the use of PEEK is the excellent low-temperature behavior of the
polymer, which shows no sign of brittleness at minus 50 degrees
Celsius [-58 degrees Fahrenheit], explains Bierhaus.The same holds
for aerospace applications, where PEEK makes an important
contribution to the protection of electronic control cables.
In aircraft construction, PEEK, among other things, is used for
the intake ports of fuel pumps in different Airbus models. In
contrast to other thermoplastics, the material is able to withstand
the aviation fuel kerosene at operating temperatures ranging from
minus 40 degrees Celsius [-40 degrees Fahrenheit] to plus 200 degrees
Celsius [392 degrees Fahrenheit]. It is also used to advantage in
engine lining technology.
The construction weight of modern aircraft can be significantly
reduced in this manner,permitting a corresponding increase
in the useful load.
- Cross-reference: Pictures "German-Chinese cooperation" are
Most amazingly, the polymer has even pushed aside metals in terms
of wear resistance. The manufacturers of compression pumps and
drinking-water feed pumps are already taking advantage of these
properties to increase the lifetimes of their entire systems, such as
coldwater treatment plants.
The microelectronics industry may also lastingly profit from PEEK.
One person who is convinced is Christian Seidel, who holds the chair
for Polymer Materials at the Friedrich- Alexander-University
Erlangen-Nuremberg: The technology is clearly going in the direction
of more flexible circuit carriers, because lower material thicknesses
permit significant reductions in the weight of electronic components.
PEEK is a very good solution for this, explains the expert.
- Cross-reference: Pictures "Impeller use", "Wanjin Zhang" and
"Quality inspection" are available at
From turbines to artificial hip joints
Resistance to heat and wear are qualities that turbine
manufacturers also demand of materials.Control cables, for
example, must be able to tolerate both extraordinary mechanical
stress and a high temperature load.
- Cross-reference: Picture "V8 engine" is available at
In chemical plants, in turn, high ambient temperatures and high
steam concentrations often occur together. Because of its high
resistance to hydrolysis, namely splitting by water, PEEK has proven
itself outstanding even in this inhospitable environment. The
innovative material is also resistant to a large variety of
Moreover, the polymer is completely innocuous biologically. This
makes it possible to use a thin plastic layer to efficiently prevent
wear on the heads of artificial hip joints, which are made of a
titanium alloy. Even the hoses that are used in dialysis are now
beginning to be manufactured of PEEK. PEEK also shines in meeting the
requirements imposed by other branches of medical technology. One
example is inhalers for asthma patients,wherein a tiny distribution
nozzle helps build up high pressure within a very short time,
enabling the inhalant to be released in strong bursts. The forces
acting on the material are so large that PEEK has become the material
of choice because of its high wear-resistance.
For the HP Business Unit, which has specialized in customized
products, systems, and high-performance semifinished products, PEEK
represents a logical extension of its product line. In accordance
with our solutions-to-customer philosophy,we want to offer our
customers the entire thermoplastic bandwidth, says Bierhaus, the
expert. VESTAKEEP®, the trade name under which Degussa sells the
polymer, has allowed the company to successfully leap to first place
in regard to high-performance thermoplastics that feature temperature
and chemical resistance, abrasion, and lubrication properties. This
success has also provided Degussa an opportunity to jointly explore
new ground with the customer.
This applies not only to Germany, but also worldwide: In China,
Degussa is running the joint venture JIDA Degussa High Performance
Polymers Changchun Co. Ltd. (called JIDA Degussa for short) together
with Jilin University. The goal is the production of VESTAKEEP® and
polyether sulfone. The university fills the roles of technology
provider and research partner. Degussa holds 80 percent of the joint
venture and Jilin University holds 20 percent. This example shows
that the flow of technology does not necessarily have to be a one-way
street, comments Bierhaus. No German technology was brought to
China. There was already a well-established basic expertise on site.
Both partners will jointly profit from this. Not to mention a lot
of airplane passengers - especially when it starts rattling and
Degussa in China
- Cross-reference: Picture "Degussa in China" is available at
Degussa has been producing specialty chemicals in China since the
early nineties, and had maintained varied trade relations with the
country previously. Today over 18 Chinese companies with production
facilities in Anqiu, Beijing, Changchun, Jining, Liaoyang, Nanning,
Qingdao, Rizhao, Shanghai, and Yingkou belong to the Degussa Group.
The broad spectrum of Degussa products - ranging from carbon blacks,
rubber silanes, amino acids, polyurethane foam additives, coating
polyesters, pigment paste, colorants, high performance polymers and
initiators used in the production of plastics - is aligned to
customers not only in China but all over Asia. In fiscal 2005,
Degussas approx. 2,600 employees in China generated sales of over
320 million euros. Degussa regards China as one of the driving forces
of the global economy, and thus aims to increase its volume of
business in the attractive growth region to some 800 million euros
within three years.
Degussa is the global market leader in specialty chemicals. Our
business is creating essentials-innovative products and system
solutions that make indispensable contributions to our customers
success. In fiscal 2005 around 44.000 employees world-wide generated
sales of 11.8 billion euros and operating profits (EBIT) of 940
Originaltext: Degussa AG
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