Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Primary structural component of A350 cabin doors are made with PEEK polymer

Airbus Helicopters is replacing aluminum in a fitting in the aircraft door of the Airbus A350-900 with a high-modulus, carbon fiber-reinforced high performance polymer. 

The brackets, now manufactured from Victrex PEEK 90HMF40, has been developed by Airbus Helicopters and is in serial production for commercial use after receiving the relevant component qualification. The successful substitution of metal has resulted in a 40% reduction in weight and costs. The injection-molded polymer solution replaces the higher cost manufacture of the bracket machined from an aluminum block. 

The fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) structure of the A350 XWB’s aircraft door uses an outer skin coupled with a bracing structure on the inside. A fitting, now manufactured from PEEK thermoplastic, connects the outer skin to points on the internal bracing structure. The two components form a box-type support structure to exploit the maximum geometrical moment of inertia. 

By using the carbon fiber reinforced high performance PEEK polymer instead of the aluminium previously used, Airbus Helicopters has successfully manufactured an equivalent component that provides a range of benefits. Weight and production costs have each been reduced by 40%. In addition, joining the PEEK component, instead of an aluminum component, to a thermoset makes drilling much easier. Optimized carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) drills improves the quality of the holes compared with the previous solution. 

Specified by Airbus, Victrex PEEK 90HMF40 easily withstands the moisture that continuously accumulates inside aircraft doors, whereas aluminium, which is prone to corrosion, needed a special surface coating to prevent corrosion. 

In the aerospace business, the “design and build” process, e.g. development in accordance with a given specification, is a possible option for producing structural components. In this process, the developer has additional freedom in matters such as the selection of materials. 

“90HMF40 is a special high performance thermoplastic which is also suitable for load bearing structural components as now used for the first time in the Airbus A350-900 and therefore in regular airline operations. This first application is certain to be quickly followed by others”, explains Uwe Marburger, Aerospace Business Development Manager at Victrex. Operating worldwide, the UK-based company has over 35 years’ experience and offers not only solutions based on polyaryletherketones (PAEK), but also consistent product quality, as well as security of supply. 

Aerospace designers and manufacturers benefit from the use of Victrex PEEK 90HMF40. This high-performance polymer with high-modulus fibers (HMF) is based on the Victrex 90-Series polyaryletherketone, which is primarily used in very thin-walled injection molded components. High strength components can be manufactured from this free flowing, easily processed material. Its properties cannot be matched by those of the standard grades. For example, 90HMF40 has up to 100 times longer fatigue life and up to 20% greater specific strength and stiffness than aluminum 7075-T6 under the same conditions. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

KU Leuven Researchers Develop Tech. to Produce PLA from Maize

Biodegradable drinking cups or vegetable wrapping foil: the bioplastic known as polylactic acid (PLA) is already a part of our everyday lives. And yet, PLA is not yet considered a full alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics, as it is costly to produce. Researchers from the KU Leuven Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis now present a way to make the PLA production process more simple and waste-free. Their findings were published in Science. 

The bioplastic PLA is derived from renewable resources, including the sugar in maize and sugarcane. Fermentation turns the sugar into lactic acid, which in turn is a building block for polylactic acid. PLA degrades after a number of years in certain environments. If it is collected and sorted correctly, it is both industrially compostable and recyclable. In addition, PLA is biocompatible and thus suitable for medical use, for instance in absorbable suture threads. PLA is also one of the few plastics that are suitable for 3D printing. 

However, PLA is not yet a full alternative for petroleum-based plastics due to its cost. The production process for PLA is expensive because of the intermediary steps. “First, lactic acid is fed into a reactor and converted into a type of pre-plastic under high temperature and in a vacuum”, Professor Bert Sels from the Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis explains. “This is an expensive process. The pre-plastic – a low-quality plastic – is then broken down into building blocks for PLA. In other words, you are first producing an inferior plastic before you end up with a high-quality plastic. And even though PLA is considered a green plastic, the various intermediary steps in the production process still require metals and produce waste.” 

The KU Leuven researchers developed a new technique. “We have applied a petrochemical concept to biomass”, says postdoctoral researcher Michiel Dusselier. “We speed up and guide the chemical process in the reactor with a zeolite as a catalyst. Zeolites are porous minerals. By selecting a specific type on the basis of its pore shape, we were able to convert lactic acid directly into the building blocks for PLA without making the larger by-products that do not fit into the zeolite pores. Our new method has several advantages compared to the traditional technique: we produce more PLA with less waste and without using metals. In addition, the production process is cheaper, because we can skip a step”. 

Professor Sels is confident that the new technology will soon take hold. “The KU Leuven patent on our discovery was recently sold to a chemical company that intends to apply the production process on an industrial scale. Of course, PLA will never fully replace petroleum-based plastics. For one thing, some objects, such as toilet drain pipes, are not meant to be biodegradable. And it is not our intention to promote disposable plastic. But products made of PLA can now become cheaper and greener. Our method is a great example of how the chemical industry and biotechnology can join forces”. 

Source: KU Leuven 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Celanese Introduces PPS Engineering Polymer Grades for Automotive in Japan

Celanese Corporation (NYSE: CE), a global technology and specialty materials company, announces the introduction of Celanese® Polyphenylene Sulfide (PPS) to the Japanese market to meet the demanding product quality and materials specification needs of automotive customers in the country. 

“Celanese® PPS is a highly stable and durable polymer and is a primary reason why customers in the Japanese automotive industry, among others, specify parts made from this material,” said Hajime Suzuki, Celanese managing director for Japan. “We see tremendous growth potential for a PPS polymer solution, and we are excited to bring our technical knowledge, processing expertise and product offering to regional and global OEM customers who call Japan their home.” 

Celanese® PPS is a semi-crystalline polymer often used to replace metals and thermosets in various automotive, electrical/electronics, aerospace, fluid handling, and industrial and consumer applications. 

Celanese will offer the following PPS grades in Japan: 

• Celanese® ICE PPS - ICE (Improved Crystallization Evolution) grades are part of the PPS semi-crystalline polymer family that features exceptionally high temperature performance up to 240 degrees Celsius (464 degrees Fahrenheit); outstanding resistance to fuels, oils and solvents; excellent hardness, stiffness and dimensional stability; and inherent flame-resistance. ICE grades use an innovative platform technology developed by Celanese material scientists to deliver material properties that are equivalent to or better than standard injection molding PPS grades - and at the same time, significantly improve the processing characteristics. 

• Celanese® Flex PPS - offers excellent thermal, chemical and permeation resistance, contains no plasticizers and can be tailored to meet customer requirements. Celanese® Flex PPS is an exceptional material selection for under-hood automotive applications where flexible tubing requirements help engineers and designers meet the engine “packaging” requirements of today’s high performance turbo engines where space constraints test the limits of inferior engineered polymer materials. 

Celanese manufactures PPS using advanced polymer technology and processes. This engineered material is designed to excel at high continuous-use, under-hood temperatures. Celanese® PPS offers excellent dimensional stability, inherent flame resistance and broad chemical resistance - including automotive/aircraft fuels and fluids, strong acids and bases (pH 2 to 12) - even at elevated temperatures up to 240 degrees Celsius (464 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Source: Celanese Corporation 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Airbus officially opens US manufacturing facility

The plant – which assembles the family of A319s, A320s and A321s – is officially open for business, with a skilled team of more than 250 Airbus manufacturing employees now at work on the first US-made Airbus aircraft. 

In an anticipated ceremony in Mobile, Alabama, Airbus inaugurated operations at its first ever US manufacturing facility. 

“The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility enables us to grow our already significant presence in America – the largest single-aisle aircraft market in the world – and to be closer to our U.S. customers and key supplier partners. At the same time, the expanded industrial capacity gives us more flexibility to increase production across Airbus to meet global demand. The U.S. facility is good news for the overall Airbus enterprise, as this greater production capacity creates global growth opportunities across the company and throughout our supply chain.” said Airbus President and CEO Fabrice BrĂ©gier. 

Airbus announced plans for the $600 million U.S. manufacturing facility in 2012, and construction began at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley the following year. The first U.S.-made Airbus commercial aircraft – an A321 – is scheduled for delivery next spring. By 2018, the facility will produce between 40 and 50 single-aisle aircraft per year. Airbus’ market forecast indicates a demand over the next 20 years (from all manufacturers) for some 4,700 single-aisle aircraft in North America alone. 

Fabrice BrĂ©gier and members of the new Airbus workforce in Mobile were joined at the inaugural ceremony by Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Jeff Sessions, Congressman Bradley Byrne, and scores of other dignitaries, airline and aerospace executives, and local leaders. The industry- and community-wide event convened under the theme, “Let’s Get to Work – Together!” and culminated in the ceremonial placement of a placard on a component of the first aircraft to be produced in Mobile. The placard reads, “This aircraft proudly made in the U.S.A. by the worldwide team from Airbus.” 

The Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility joins several other Airbus and Airbus Group operations across the United States, including for example Airbus engineering offices in Alabama (Mobile) and Kansas (Wichita); an Airbus training centre in Florida (Miami); Airbus Defence & Space Military Aircraft facility in Alabama (Mobile); Airbus Helicopters factories and operations in Mississippi (Columbus) and Texas (Grand Prairie); and aircraft spares facilities in Georgia (Atlanta), Florida (Miami) and Virginia (Ashburn). The U.S. headquarters of Airbus, Airbus Defence & Space, and Airbus Group are located in Herndon, Virginia, while Airbus’ Latin America headquarters is located in Miami. Airbus and Airbus Group are major customers of other U.S. aerospace companies as well, having purchased $16.5 billion of components and materials from American suppliers last year alone. 

The establishment of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility doubles the number of manufacturers of large commercial aircraft in the United States, creating jobs, expanding skills, and establishing a new aerospace centre of competence on the U.S. Gulf Coast. In addition to the new Alabama manufacturing site, Airbus assembles commercial aircraft at modern facilities in Hamburg (Germany), Tianjin (China) and Toulouse (France). 


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My article in FRP TODAY on Composite CNG Cylinders market

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