Companies that make corrosion-resistant resins must monitor developments in the industries they already serve. New fuel additives, for example, may require them to rework resin formulas used for gasoline tanks and piping applications to ensure that the composite will withstand the chemicals in the revised formula.
In addition, with increased emphasis on sustainable manufacturing processes, resin producers are looking at ways to incorporate more green products into all their offerings – including corrosion-resistant resins. Developing new sources of raw material is one way to accomplish that. To go greener, a company like Ashland, which can make a number of resins from either natural resources or recycled materials, might decide to incorporate at least some corn-derived ethanol into a resin instead of using only petroleum sources. The science has reached the point where a lot of these green alternatives are not significantly more expensive than the virgin materials.
In the years ahead, the toughest challenges faced by all types of resins, including those with anti-corrosive and heat-resistant properties, may come not from the industrial sector but from government regulatory agencies.
“There is a lot of pending regulation on VOC emissions, and certainly the workhorse monomer of our resins is styrene,” says Bill Schramm, vice president, commercial, North American composites at Reichhold. In anticipation of a push to limit styrene use, the company has developed a new technology called Advalite™, a vinyl hybrid resin made without styrene or other VOC materials. Advalite is temperature resistant up to 300 F.
Schramm says Reichhold has been able to take Advalite into the market now served by epoxy prepregs, which have a relatively short shelf life and must be refrigerated. Advalite, by contrast, has a shelf life of a year when stored at ambient temperature and requires no post cure.
Advalite has achieved excellent results in tests for GM’s Corvette. “GM tested the cabin exposures [for VOCs] and repeated the test because they couldn’t believe that they were unable to detect anything,” Schramm says. Chevrolet used Advalite for the battery housing in its Spark electric car. “It was the only thing that they found that didn’t have the VOC emissions and that could withstand all of the rear and side impacts necessary for a vehicle,” he says.