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Polymer Nanocomposites Promise Cost Reduction in Automotive Parts

18 May 2001

Polymer Nanocomposites Promise Cost Reduction in Automotive Parts
Innovative uses for polymer nanocomposites in automotive along with other markets will be featured at the upcoming Nanocomposites 2001: Path to Commercialization conference hosted by Principia Partners. The event will be held at the Marriott Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD on June 4-5, 2001, and is sponsored by several companies including Applied Sciences, Coop Chemical and Unicoop.

The high activity in developing commercial applications for polymer nanocomposites by automakers and their suppliers is beginning to pay off. General Motors Research will address the automaker's technical activities in injection molding of polyolefin-based nanocomposites compared to a talc-filled TPO. General Motors Research and Development and Basell Polyolefins have jointly developed a family of polyolefin-based nanocomposites for use in the injection molding of body-side claddings. In addition to mass savings, the nanocomposite material is proving to have a much wider processing window than a conventional talc-filled TPO, allowing Tier 1 molders the opportunity to process away problems rather than initiating a tooling change. This nanocomposite application is expected to become commercial on an upcoming car model in 2001.

Another groundbreaking technology has been developed by InMat LLC through its aqueous, non-hazardous, layered silicate -- clay nanocomposite coating. The nanocomposite structure of the coating formulation provides a unique combination of barrier properties and flexibility. Using butyl rubber as the matrix, and a very high aspect ratio vermiculite filler, flexible coatings with gas permeabilities 30 to 50 times lower than butyl rubber have been produced, and have been shown to be undamaged by significant strain. This technology is being produced commercially under the trade name AIR D-FENSE(TM), and is commercially used in the sporting goods industry. It has additional applications in any pneumatic rubber product, since one can get the barrier properties of a mm thick butyl rubber sheet in a thin (20-30 micron) coating. The largest target market is automobile and truck tires, which currently use over $1 billion of butyl rubber to help maintain a constant air pressure.

Over two dozen companies will present their views and perspectives at the Nanocomposites 2001: Path to Commercialization conference hosted by Principia Partners. This conference will bring together technology developers and business leaders for 2 days of in-depth discussion of cutting-edge developments. The event is an excellent opportunity for networking -- meeting established industry contacts and making new ones -- and for gaining a fresh perspective on the factors impacting advances in this new technology.





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