Over the past few years, polymer composites have slowly started to come in to their own. Composite materials combine very good mechanical properties with low weight and are in huge demand in many different application fields, especially where lightweighting is a key concern. In lightweight design in the automotive and aviation industries, for example, the use of composite materials can significantly affect fuel consumption. According to experts, every 100 kilograms of weight saved in a car equates to a saving of 0.3 to 0.5 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers. In wind turbines, composites guarantee enormous stability and make bigger and, thus, more-efficient energy plants possible.
However, the production of composites is still complex and costly, forming an obstacle to the full-scale adoption of these materials. For composites to become truly competitive, both the manufacturing process and manufacturing speed need to be addressed.
To that end, specialty chemicals giant Evonik (Essen, Germany) has been working on an innovative development, called hybrid polymer systems, that will facilitate the bulk production of composites, according to the company.