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Engineering Materials

Manufacturing plastic gas tanks that exceed fuel emission limits

Sustainability is a pressing concern for outdoor power equipment (OPE) manufacturers. Products must comply with emission limits set by regulatory bodies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resource Board (CARB). OPE that fails to meet regulations can lead to costly fines or recalls. Although more electric and battery-powered handheld equipment is being developed, larger equipment for agricultural, turf care, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and golf car applications remain powered by gasoline. 

Manufacturing gas-powered OPE that complies with environmental regulations is a challenge due to evaporative fuel emissions permeating through plastic fuel tanks. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), the material most commonly used to manufacture gas tanks, emits hydrocarbon levels of 25 to 30 g/m²/day ­– more than 15 times the permissible limit. While HDPE can be fluorinated to create a barrier that meets emission standards, the process itself is environmentally hazardous. Tanks must also be shipped to a second location to undergo several rounds of treatment and quality testing, increasing costs and production steps for manufacturers. 

DSM’s Akulon® Fuel Lock is a proven HDPE alternative that provides an evaporative emissions barrier more than six times stronger than the regulations require, minimizing any risk of non-compliance. The mono layer material solution eliminates the need for fluorination or additional secondary processing, saving manufacturers substantial time and costs. Excellent mechanical strength, UV-stability and impact resistance at temperatures down to -40°C make Fuel Lock ideal for use in outdoor conditions. 

Superior lifetime durability and processing characteristics 

Over time, fluorinated HDPE falls below permeation limits set by the EPA and CARB, due to fuel sloshing inside tanks, decreasing barrier effectiveness. Fuel Lock plastic tanks consistently surpass regulations by more than 80% throughout the lifetime of the product. The material also offers excellent processability for molding walls as thin as 2mm without sacrificing performance. This reduces material costs and tank weight while increasing end-product fuel capacity. 

Cost-effective drop-in solution 

Replacing HDPE with Fuel Lock in your injection molded, blow molded or roto-molded fuel tanks equipment and hot plate or vibration welded processes components incurs no re-tooling costs. Once molded, Fuel Lock tanks only need to undergo quality testing once, since barrier strength performance is inherent and doesn’t vary between batches. The material’s rapid recrystallization rate from melt also reduces production cycle times. 

Fuel Lock has a proven track record of success, with more than 25,000,000 fuel tanks already in the market. Yet, we know that replacing traditionally used materials can be risky. At DSM, our teams conduct extensive testing to ensure materials respond to every customer challenge and exceed performance requirements. We work closely with the EPA and CARB to proactively respond to changing emission limits, and partner with OEMs to ensure our evolving materials portfolio addresses your needs first and foremost. 

To learn more about DSM’s solutions for fuel tanks, download our Akulon for Plastic Gas Tanks white paper . You can also visit plastics finder  or contact us for more information.  

Tony Padden

Senior Application Development Engineer

Published on

21 December 2020

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Manufacturing superior plastic gas tanks with Akulon Fuel Lock

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Padden

Senior Application Development Engineer

Tony Padden is a senior application development engineer for DSM Engineering Materials in the Americas region. He leverages his expertise in program management, material specification and design to deliver advanced material solutions for the world’s leading manufacturers. Padden has led the successful launch of numerous complex applications for thermoplastic gears, actuation systems, non-pneumatic tires, and other key applications for automotive and industrial customers. Prior to joining DSM, Padden was a program manager for United Plastics Group.

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