Tough, all-purpose material
The extraordinarily tough, flexible and universally usable fluorine-carbon bond launched all the way into space. During the moon landing in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong wore boots with soles made of fluoroelastomers from Dyneon. In the 1970s the PTFE Dispersion from Dyneon conquered the kitchens – as a non-stick coating for frying pans. Today, cars, jets, machines, tools, industrial plants and nuclear power stations as well as outstanding architectural buildings and sports stadia contain roof membranes or coatings, seals, linings or connecting elements made of fluoropolymers.
“This high performance material is simply indispensable for many industries like plant engineering”, says Dr. Hans Günther Beckers, Head of Sales and Marketing of the 3M Advanced Materials Division which we, Dyneon, are part of. The strengths of fluoropolymers include chemical resistance, electrical insulating capability, elasticity and temperature stability. Fluoropolymers are often used for environmental protection. One of the latest developments is the PTFE-based “New Sealing Technology”. The material is used, for example, for sealings in automotive and contributes to a reduction in oil leakage and wear, allowing maintenance intervals to be lengthened.
World’s first Up-Cycling process for fluoropolymers
The Up-Cycling introduced in 2014 represents a major breakthrough. This process, developed by us, allows the recovered material loop of fluoropolymers to be closed for the first time. Around 90 % of the monomers from fully fluorinated polymer industrial waste can now be recovered as virgin new material. A pilot plant with an annual capacity of 500 tonnes is being put into operation to coincide with the anniversary. The waste no longer has to be burned or disposed of at the waste tip. Among other things we can thus reduce the consumption of the natural raw material fluorspar.
Further innovations for environmental protection
We have often contributed to advances in PTFE technology. 3M invests about 5 % of turnover annually in research and development. Hence, in 2002, robust fluoropolymers were introduced that do not become brittle down to minus 40 degrees Celsius. In 2005, we presented a plastic for the interior coating of tank pipes which is permanently resistant to biodiesel at high temperatures.
Among our greatest achievements is the entire substitution of the emulsifier ammonium pentadecafluorooctanoate (APFO) in the production of plastics. By the turn of the millennium we had already developed the world’s first plant for the recovery of the emulsifiers in order to prevent the escape of residues into the surroundings. Environmental protection is a central topic for 3M. We, Dyneon, received the Green Product Innovation Award in 2008 for the introduction of the substitute. We have done without APFO since 2009, the first fluoropolymer manufacturer to do so.