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Akulon Fuel Lock from DSM is simple and cost-effective in cutting evaporative emissions from small engine fuel tanks

Singapore, SG, 06 Jun 2013 16:04 CEST

Royal DSM, the global Life Sciences and Materials Sciences company, says special grades of its Akulon polyamide 6 provide producers of fuel tanks for vehicles and appliances with small engines with the simplest and most cost-effective way of cutting evaporative emissions. Tanks molded in Akulon® Fuel Lock conform to newly implemented regulations set by the influential U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB). These are the toughest in the world, and are likely to be used as guidelines by legislators in other countries in the future.
White Akulon Fuel Lock for small engine fuel tanks being passed from one person to another

We expect EPA and CARB regulations to maintain at the current level or become even stricter in the future,” says Ralf Ponicki, global marketing manager - general industries at DSM. “We also expect similar regulation levels to be gradually adopted by other parts of the world, and that definitely includes Asia. With Akulon Fuel Lock, we already have solutions—and we are developing more all the time—for fuel tanks for all sorts of small-engine vehicles and appliances, including recreational vehicles (2W, ATV, Personal Watercraft), small tractors and various pieces of lawn and garden equipment.”

Last year, DSM was awarded the Executive Order (EO) for one of its Akulon Fuel Lock grades, FL40-HP. This award, granted by CARB, certifies that the material meets the low permeation of hydrocarbons requirements for small, off-road engine fuel tanks. This EO allows manufacturers and users of small engine fuel tanks to avoid the lengthy and expensive testing process needed to confirm this level of performance. Akulon Fuel Lock FL40-HP yields permeation rates (in tanks with a minimum wall thickness of 1.2 mm) that are less than 5% of the maximum value of 1.5 g/m²/day allowed by CARB under their test rules.

Akulon Fuel Lock has significantly improved fuel barrier properties and impact strength than conventional polyamide 6 (PA6). Solutions created with the material are more cost effective and reliable than solutions in fluorinated HDPE, and barrier performance does not diminish over time. Overall performance is also better than that achievable with other competing materials, including acetals (POM) and PA6-based nanocomposites and blends. Total system costs are lower than for fluorinated HDPE and for multilayer tanks.

Special ‘barrier package’ highly dispersed in the Akulon PA6 matrix creates the special properties. Phases created at a microscopic level significantly improve the fuel barrier as well as impact properties, by creating a sort of labyrinth through which fuel vapours need to pass to escape from the tank. Unlike some other barrier solutions, fuel tanks made with Akulon Fuel Lock contain no toxic chemicals. 

In addition, tanks have very good surface aesthetics, which is quite important in target applications where the tank is often highly visible.

Akulon Fuel Lock can be processed with conventional equipment (there are grades for blow molding, injection molding and rotational molding), using tooling originally designed for HDPE tanks. The resulting tanks have emissions over 99% lower than those from the HDPE version. All scrap material can be reused in the molding process, with hardly any degradation of physical or mechanical properties, assuming ideal processing conditions.

Fuel tanks in Akulon Fuel Lock are already being produced in China, for Kohler engines used on lawn mowers supplied to the U.S. market”, says Noble Zhang, general manager of Kohler China. “The tanks meet the customer’s requirements for surface quality and fuel permeability and passed low-temperature impact tests,” he says.

The development of Akulon Fuel Lock is another clear example of the DSM strategy to apply Brighter Science to deliver innovation that helps to meet the dual challenges of climate and energy facing producers and consumers today,” says Ralf Ponicki.