As part of a new corporate initiative to pursue environmental programs, Freudenberg-NOK has developed an ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber compound from a polymer with its roots in a sugarcane-based feedstock.
‘’The bio-renewable rubber, for which development began in 2012, is made from a polymer which has its beginnings with sugarcane,” said Joe Walker, global director, Advanced Materials Development. Sugarcane-produced ethanol is converted into 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 the polymer offerings lacked the specific characteristics we needed for our advanced manufacturing processes. So we initiated a project to research the area, and we were able to develop a material that can be used in our next-generation injection molding process.”
The next-generation manufacturing technology at Freudenberg-NOK focuses on a single cavity, net shape injection molding process which has resulted in reduced waste and energy demand and overall improved manufacturing control.
Applications for the 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 150ºC, and the material is said to possess outstanding compressive stress force retention.
In addition to these properties, the sugarcane base allows the material to be 45 percent bio-renewable.
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan. Other elements of the new environmental program include new lights that reduce energy consumption and a bio-exhaust system that uses microbes to eliminate solvent vapors