Plastics that take the heat
As industry trends push us towards applications that produce higher heat, plastics play a fundamental role in improving electrical safety, and creating lighter and more fuel efficient vehicles. Yet how can these plastics take the heat in challenging applications, without affecting their mechanical performance?
At DSM, we approach these challenges by determining the fundamental issues in the problem. When it comes to heat aging performance, our material scientists have studied the chemical mechanism of oxidation – a controlled burning process – so we can figure out how to slow it down.
Some approaches have only limited effectiveness. Stabilization focuses on breaking the reaction chain by including components that react with the radicals formed during the oxidation process. This approach can only increase continuous use temperatures by 10-20°C – not enough to meet the demands of today’s under-the-hood applications.
Learning from firefighting, we can try to remove the heat, remove the fuel, or remove the oxygen. Removing the heat can only be achieved by design – moving parts away from heat sources, or including heat shields. To address the other solution routes, we considered the option of how we could remove the oxygen.
Removing the oxygen might seem impossible at first glance, but that only makes the challenge more interesting. We built on the way that stainless steel prevents rust (another controlled burning process) by forming a thin, stable film that protects the core from oxidation. Our Diablo technology is designed so that when the outer layer oxidizes, it forms on oxygen-barrier layer that protects the inner core from oxidation. This approach has achieved vast improvements to the upper temperature limit of where our materials can be used, outperforming the competition.