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Self-healing elastomer enters industrial production

28
May '09
In February 2008 Arkema announced the joint development with the Paris Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI) Matière Molle et Chimie Laboratory of a revolutionary self-healing rubber based on the concept of supramolecular chemistry. Arkema will now begin the industrial production of the first high-performance materials derived from this chemistry. A comprehensive range of supramolecular materials and additives will be marketed under the trademark Reverlink.

During the past twelve months, Arkema has been fine-tuning pilot plant processes capable of producing, on a semi-industrial scale, materials based on supramolecular chemistry, and studying applications that might benefit from this remarkable chemistry. The production plant, based in France at the Feuchy facility (Pas-de-Calais), boasts an annual capacity of almost 100 tonnes. These new supramolecular materials are composed of at least 60% fatty acid oligomers derived from vegetable oils. Their production is part of Arkema's strategy to increase the use of renewable raw materials.

Self-healing materials derived from supramolecular chemistry
Supramolecular materials specifically feature so-called « reversible » (non-permanent) intermolecular bonds, in contrast with polymers derived from traditional chemistry, which are based on so-called « irreversible » (permanent) bonds. This reversibility feature imparts a capacity to self-heal: cracks or breaks occurring in supramolecular materials can be repaired simply by putting the fractured surfaces back together and applying light pressure; the materials recover nearly all their initial strength without the need for bonding or heating.

A huge development potential in many applications
The self-healing elastomer technology offers opportunities wherever an elastomer (« rubber ») part is likely to suffer damage from micro-cracks or deep grooves. Many industrial applications are being explored: conveyor belts, sealing joints, impact protection, insulation and shock–absorbing layers, industrial gloves, anti-corrosion coatings for metal, and formulation additives for adhesives, bitumen, organic binders, paints, varnishes, pastes and sealants. Over 30 confidentiality agreements have already been signed between Arkema and industrial partners relating to possible developments in supramolecular chemistry.

Reverlink: a comprehensive range of materials
Arkema has developed a comprehensive range of products with self-repairing characteristics tailored to several application areas. The Reverlink range today comprises ten grades of supramolecular elastomers featuring optimum self-healing characteristics, products for traditional polymer modification, and various specialty additives.

Arkema


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