TOKYO—Two of Kuraray Co. Ltd.'s newest polymers bring new approaches for applications, one through a new monomer and the other through a balance of different polymers.
Using a new renewable monomer called B-farnesene, Kuraray has developed a new hydrogenated styrene farnesene copolymer that has sound damping properties and high flowability. It can be used in many applications where traditional hydrogenated styrenic block copolymers are used, said Erich Klein, elastomers business unit marketing manager for Kuraray America.
Kuraray worked with Amyris Inc., an industrial bioscience company located in Emeryville, Calif., to create HSFC. Amyris uses genetically engineered yeast cells to convert plant-sourced sugars such as sugarcane into target molecules through a fermentation process. Among other molecules, Amyris developed farnesene, which Kuraray uses in place of or in combination with butadiene, styrene and isoprene to make HSFC, Klein said.
"There's an appetite in the world for more bio-based polymers, so we began researching multiple options including farnesene," Klein said. "In our R&D group, as they began evaluating farnesene, they found that in addition to being bio-based, it also provided some other properties that were really intriguing. If you look at the polymer structure itself, HSFC has more branching while traditional HSBC's have a more linear structure."
The modified structure gives formulators different properties to work with, including a few key differentiators that separated it from Septon. HSFC has a high tan delta over a wide temperature range, which correlates to improved sound and vibration dampening properties beyond what traditional styrenic block copolymers can provide, Klein said.
This could be especially helpful in applications such as sound deadening or attenuation in the automotive industry. Following trends of electric cars and light-weighting vehicles for better fuel efficiency, controlling sound becomes more important because the vehicle acts more like a hollow box.
"It's a problem with managing rattles and general low frequency sounds within the range that we hear that are becoming more of an issue for automotive companies," Klein said. "Customers can potentially use this to have better sound-dampening qualities. The high tan delta at a wide temperature range is very differentiating."