Sabic has announced the launch of a new portfolio of bio-based polyetherimide (PEI) resins offering the same high performance and processability as their conventional counterparts - and marketed under the same Ultem brand name.
The new materials, claim the company, are the first certified renewable high-performance, amorphous polymers available in the industry. Using a mass balance approach, for every 100 kg of Ultem resin produced, Sabic replaces 25.5 kg of fossil-based feedstocks with bio-based materials derived from waste or residue, such as crude tall oil from the wood industry.
As a drop-in material option to replace current Ultem materials, these resins are suitable for applications in consumer electronics, aerospace, automotive, and other industries where high temperature, dimensional stability or demanding mechanical performance is required. Potential markets and example applications for these resins may include consumer electronics (wearables and mobile devices), automotive (under the hood (UTH) applications such as connectors, sensors and valves), aerospace (interiors including panels and trim), healthcare (surgical devices and sterilization trays), and electrical/electronics (5G networking infrastructure).
“Our new bio-based Ultem resin platform offers customers a seamless way to integrate sustainability into their highly demanding applications,” said Scott Fisher, director, Business Management, Ultem Resins and Additives, Sabic.
The new products perform in the same way and maintain the same regulatory listings as traditional Ultem resins, including UL94, which means no adjustments to product designs and manufacturing processes are required. Specifically, compliance is offered with global drinking water standards, Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR 25.853) and food contact according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Also, customers can be confident about the environmental benefits of these materials, which have earned the ISCC+ designation,” Fisher added
An internal evaluation that followed the general principles of life cycle analysis according to ISO 14040/14044 protocols revealed that Sabic’s bio-based Ultem resins can potentially reduce the materials’ carbon footprint by up to 10 percent compared to fossil-based incumbent grades. Sabic used its own primary data, combined with the latest manufacturing data and industry average estimates, in the cradle-to-gate comparison of these resins. Furthermore, the bio-based Ultem resins comply with the requirements of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive.
“The bio-based feedstocks used in the new Ultem materials do not alter performance properties, which include long-term high-temperature performance, chemical resistance, excellent mechanical and structural properties, dimensional and hydrolytic stability, excellent processability and inherent flame retardance,” said Greg Stoddard, director, Technology & Innovation, Sabic. They may be considered a full-fledged alternative to traditional Ultem resins or sulfone polymers such as PSU, PESU and PPSU, he noted.
Bio-based Ultem resins are available globally, with regional supply from Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America.