Southampton, UK, October 15, 2012: Bac2, the polymer materials company, has been selected as the winner in the materials category of the Composites UK Innovation Awards 2012. The company will receive the award at a black-tie dinner held on the 7th November at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the NEC complex, Birmingham, UK. The awards celebrate innovations in composite materials, design and manufacturing.
Bac2 entered its CSR family of latent acid catalysts for the award. Development of catalysts was driven by the desire to make pre-polymeric mixes easier to store, transport, handle and process during product manufacturing. Without a latent catalyst to control polymerisation, the storage life of pre-polymeric mixes may be anything from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other catalysts that extend storage life are available. However, they typically require temperatures above 200 deg C for activation, something that is both energy-hungry and impractical with many of the materials involved in manufacturing processes that utilise resins.
Bac2’s innovation was to develop a family of latent acid catalysts that activate between 50 deg C and 150 deg C, depending on the application and the speed of cure required, enabling them to be used with many materials and processes.
Critically, the catalysts do not have a detrimental affect on the mould-flow or other characteristics of the resins with which they are used. In some applications, notably pultrusion, the catalyst has been shown to improve resin flow characteristics leading to faster process speeds.
Originally developed for use with the company’s ElectroPhen electrically conductive polymer resin, the CSR family of catalysts has since been expanded to include formulations that retard and control the curing of phenol-formaldehyde resoles, furan resins, urea and melamine formaldehyde resins. Using CSR catalysts, the storage life of pre-polymeric mixes has been extended to over 3 months, simplifying storage, transportation and materials handling. Process efficiency improvements of over 100% have been demonstrated in pultrusion coupled with a 30 deg C reduction in curing temperature. In SMC and BMC processes, room-temperature storage life is extended to several months. CSR catalysts also enable the manufacture of inherently flame-retardant mouldings by facilitating the production of stable phenolic and furan-based pre-polymeric mixes.
Bac2 estimates the potential market for its latent acid catalysts to be at least £100 million in Europe and North America alone and its three primary target sectors are in wood products (MDF, particle board and plywood), abrasives and composite moulded products