The Future of Epoxy Resin

EPOXY RESIN, the one industrial chemical with multiple applications- has also a path to be bio-sourced in the future and be part of bio-polymers.

Industrial construction involves an extensive use of different kinds of chemicals. Use of paints, adhesives, reducers and other chemicals is integral for the proper development of vessels, equipment, machinery, fixtures. All this chemicals are also used in many other industries.

One of the most critical components to assemble future transportations vessels, a great deal of which will be made of carbon fiber instead of aluminum or steel, is the adhesive that will hold the parts together instead of rivets. The commercial aircrafts of the future will be made of glued parts of carbon fibers and plastics like a model aircraft. Reduced weight and fuel consumption, flexibility, durability, recyclability are amongst the advantages brought by new materials. The same applies to trains and cars, ships and gondolas, bicycles and sporting equipment.

epoxy resin bioplastics

The quality of the chemicals that go into the making of all industrial entities directly impacts the durability, longevity and appeal of the final product.

Epoxy resin is certainly one of the best industrial adhesive currently on the market.  Epoxy resins are thermosetting polymers and known for their high quality performance in various industrial applications for corrosion protection, thermal stability, mechanical strength, moisture resistivity, adhesion, etc.

Petrochemicals Bisphenol A and Epichlorohydrin are major raw materials in the production of epoxy resins and any change in the demand and supply of these raw materials could have a major impact on the epoxy resin industry.

Epichlorohydrin can be manufactured from bio-sourced glycerol, a fatal by-product (10%) of the manufacturing of bio-diesel from oil plants. The first commercial plant of bio-sourced Epichlorohydrin has being commissioned in Feb 2012 by Solvay in Map Ta Phut, Thaïland. Its annual capacity is 100,000 tons of Epicerol™ for a total investment of 120 million Euros.

The challenge to obtain a fully bio-based epoxy pre-polymer is thus to replace Bisphenol A by a bio-based precursor. Bio-based epoxy pre-polymers can be derived from natural sugars, sorbitol and isosorbide respectively. Sorbitol polyglycidyl ether is available commercially, while isosorbide diglycidyl ether can be synthesized either via conventional epoxidation (i.e. using Epichlorohydrin) or via the diallyl isosorbide intermediate1. Roquette France , one of the major global starch producers, has started in June 2007 in Lestrem (France) a commercial plant for the production of isosorbide also a pre-polymer for the manufacturing of heat resistant PET (Polyethylene terephtalate) and Bisphenol A free PC (polycarbonate).

With an estimated, annual global volume of over 3 million tons by 2017, renewable sources of high volume epoxies could make a significant contribution to the drive for more sustainable polymeric materials. There is a path to it. The questions remaining are (a) when exactly they will be made in commercial quantities at an affordable price and ((b) what enhanced properties the bio-sourced epoxy systems might be discovered and duly proven down the road that would eventually support a premium.

According to the “Global Epoxy Resin Market Study” published by US based MarketandMarket, the global market for epoxy resins in terms of revenue was estimated to be worth around $5.5 billion in 2011 and is expected to reach $8.4 billion by 2017, growing at an estimated CAGR of 7.3% from 2012 to 2017. The epoxy resins market is very well correlated to its end-user application industry’s growth and growing R&D efforts in modified epoxy resin field, is widening its reach in industrial applications. Asia-Pacific is the largest market. The demand for epoxy resins market is expected to rise in Asia-Pacific due to robust growth in end-user industries of China and India.

Key market participants in the global Epoxy resins market are The Dow Chemical Company (U.S.), Momentive Performance Material Holding LLC (U.S.), Nan Ya Plastics (Taiwan), Kukdo Chemical (South Korea), Huntsman Corporation (U.S.), NAMA Chemicals (Saudi Arabia), BASF SE (Germany), 3M (U.S.), Spolchemie A.S. (Czech Republic).

The dedicated blog “Epoxy resin services” is giving all details you might need on applications, from which the following is extracted.

Epoxy resin has many applications in industrial construction. The adhesive properties that it possesses are very strong and impressive; in addition to that, it is chemically resistant and battle-tested in terms of durability, and endurance.

It is a two part system that includes the main element and a catalyst, in addition to which diluents and other additives may be used.

While individually, a single component of the system is not readily usable and is in fact, irritable, when amalgamated properly, the final product which is a result of all the above mentioned chemicals is a hard usable, non-sensitizing non-irritable and.

Applications of this system:

  • Surface coating: – It is used to provide a resilient and firm coat to products and goods. In the case of cars, it may be used as a primer. Because sea vessels are prone to more wear and tear, it can be used in place of the actual paint. Also, steel pipes, and other steel products can be coated with it.
  • PVC production: – Eyeglass frames, handbags, artificial necklaces, and other products that contain PVC or even plastic or vinyl use it too.
  • As an electrical insulator: – It can also be used for electrical equipments for being a bad conductor of electricity. For this it may be used in capacitors, electrical components, transformers, circuit boards and other electrical components.
  • Glues and adhesives:- Due to its strong bonding properties, it can be used by anyone from sculptors, artists, and people who have a hobby of model train building, ship building to anyone who need it for its strong industrial applications, like for flooring, roads, bridges, concrete, cars, ships aircrafts and more. It is also used as a dental bonding agent by dentists.

(1)    Ref academic work : “Novel biobased epoxy networks derived from renewable resources : Structure-property relationships  “ INSA Lyon published 21/06/2012 by Marie Chrysanthos

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