FocusUS Huntsman's new pigment, SABIC's PC cuts energy use

18 May 2012 16:41  [Source: ICIS news]

The QarmaQ concept car uses SABICHOUSTON (ICIS)--Recent advancements by companies such as US Huntsman and SABIC Innovative Plastics could play a major role in reducing energy consumption in homes and buildings as well as help vehicle manufacturers meet future fuel efficiency standards.

Last week, Huntsman launched its ALTIRIS infrared reflecting pigment, which allows coatings and polymer products to reflect solar energy.

Sean Reid, the new business development manager for Huntsman Pigments, said the product is geared mostly for the polymers and coatings market for roofing and facades of buildings.

“As the ALTIRIS pigment can be used to reduce the surface temperature of plastic components, it carries great benefits for external uses like vinyl siding and window profiles,” Reid said.

According to research from Hashem Akbari and Ronnen Levinson, with the research firm Heat Island Group, upgrading 95% of US homes with roofs that include infrared reflecting pigments such as ALTIRIS could save $1bn (€790m) in energy costs and 9m tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly.

“Most importantly, it can help consumers save valuable income by reducing energy bills or by making their environment more comfortable,” Reid said. “We believe that the product has a positive energy payback – the exact numbers depend very much on the application and on the concentration of the product used in the end article.”

Rob Krebs, the director of market innovation for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), said many polycarbonate (PC) producers use glazing for vehicle parts to reduce weight and increase fuel efficiency.

“The added bonus here is weight savings especially while replacing glass with polycarbonate on roof structures and moon roofs,” Krebs said. “This helps holding the road. When the weight goes down in the upper regions, the car has a lower centre of gravity.”

For example, SABIC Innovative Plastics has developed PC glazing, called Lexan, that not only reduces vehicle weight, but also lowers thermal conductivity. 

“Replacing glass with highly insulating Lexan [PC] glazing can help reduce demands on air conditioning and heating systems in hot and cold climates – and during both day and night driving,” said Stephen Shuler, Exatec’s chief technology officer. 

Exatec is the automotive glazing subsidiary of SABIC.

“Our computer simulations show, for example, that these reduced demands can cut emissions by as much as three grams of carbon dioxide/kilometre, and extend electric vehicle battery range by 2-3%,” Shuler said. “This is in addition to the already recognised efficiencies provided by lighter weight polycarbonate glazing.”

Advancements such as SABIC’s and Huntsman’s will help meet government imposed standards like the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), according to the ACC.

“Innovative plastics and composites have enabled the auto industry to answer the call for lighter, higher-performing vehicles for several decades now,” said Steve Russell, vice president of plastics for the ACC. “Today plastics-enabled enhancements can be found across the entire vehicle.”

By: Bobbie Clark
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