Case studies
17 Jan 2023

PFAS improve vehicles’ efficiency

Many of the EU Green Deal targets are focused on cutting down on fuel consumption and thus lowering emissions to eventually achieve carbon neutrality. This is particularly important for the transport industry, as it is one of the heaviest consumers of fuel and energy. A solution that has proven to be helpful in this regard are polyimides.

Polyimides include limited amounts of PFAS fluoropolymers (PTFE) as a property/process enhancer. Why are these PTFE added? Without PTFE, most of the parts made of polyimide could not be produced. They allow reaching the ultimate characteristics these plastics offer such as physical properties and low friction.

For instance, in aircrafts, the polyimide parts can be up to 75% lighter than traditional metal parts, reducing the need for fuel and as such lowering emissions. Polyimides can withstand high temperatures of the engine compartment and can reduce pressure loss resulting in higher thrust. Maintenance cycles are extended thanks to the engineered polymer, which eliminates the need for lubrication in some applications. Components such as bushing and bearings benefit from polyimide resins’ wear-resistant and low-friction properties.

In cars, friction is among the major contributing factors of reduced efficiency throughout the entire powertrain, from the engine down to the wheels. Low leakage and friction polyimide seal rings reduce energy losses in automatic transmissions. Thrust plugs and bearings made with polyimide resins allow electric motors to be more compact and energy efficient. Polyimide parts are used for light weighting in turbochargers and emission control systems that enable more fuel efficient engines.

Alternatives to PTFE process enhancers for the processing of polyimides have been tried but do not provide the same processing or final physical characteristics.