Plymouth, Michigan –Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies has developed an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber compound from a polymer produced from sugarcane-based feedstock.
The development, which began in 2012, is in response to the emergence of increasingly stringent emissions standards and the push for new sustainability solutions, said a company release.
The polymer is produced via a process in which a sugarcane-produced ethanol is converted into the ethylene that forms a substantial portion of the base polymer.
"We had been working with polymer suppliers for ways to reduce our carbon footprint but [their] offerings lacked the specific characteristics we needed for our advanced manufacturing processes," said Joe Walker, global director, advanced materials development.
"So we initiated a project to research the area, and were able to develop a material that can be used in our next-generation injection moulding process."
Freudenberg-NOK said that it has focused much of its next-generation manufacturing technology on a single cavity, net shape injection moulding process. This, it said, has resulted in reduced waste and energy demand and overall improved manufacturing control, yielding improved quality.
The advent of the new, more eco-friendly EPDM rubber is a natural fit for the machines, added the release.
Applications for the bio-rubber include seals for coolants, steam, synthetic hydraulic fluids, brake fluids and aerospace hydraulic fluids (phosphate esters).
The newly developed material is capable of withstanding temperatures up to 150 degrees C, and is claimed to offer outstanding compressive stress force retention.
In addition to these properties, the sugarcane base allows the material to be 45-percent bio-renewable, which ultimately reduces the manufacturing carbon footprint.