Energy efficiency is on the rise in America, thanks to recent legislative initiatives (see H.R. 2126 and S. 1000) and the emergence of public and private partnerships (see the Better Buildings Challenge) that can help Americans reduce our collective energy footprint.
And of the hundreds if not thousands of energy-saving tools at our disposal today, nearly all depend on innovations in chemistry.
Adding to a series of energy-saving product case studies made possible by chemistry, Spartanburg, SC-based Milliken & Company produces a high-performance reinforcing additive that helps make vehicles lighter and more energy efficient. It has also developed a polypropylene clarifier that reduces energy and emissions related to containers and packaging.
The automotive industry continues to make great strides toward achieving higher levels of fuel economy without sacrificing performance or safety. And one of the tools automakers have at their disposal is lightweight vehicle components.
And what makes up 50 percent of the volume of cars but only 10 percent of the weight? Plastics.
More than one- third of the plastic used in cars today is polypropylene-based. Milliken’s high-performance reinforcing additive, Hyperform® HPR-803i, can be added to polypropylene resin, which enables the production of car and truck parts that weigh up to 20 percent less than parts filled with talc.
Lighter parts means greater fuel efficiency and less CO2 emissions. It’s a win for chemistry, the consumer and the manufacturer.
Polypropylenes aren’t just popular with auto manufacturers. Consumer product manufacturers are also working to reduce their energy consumption and carbon emissions by shifting from traditional product materials to more energy-efficient ones, like polypropylene.
Take the production of houseware containers and food packaging. Manufacturers use polypropylene to make products that are typically 10–30 percent lighter yet just as rigid, more fuel-efficient for shipping, and recyclable, all of which help reduce their carbon footprint.
Milliken’s latest clarifier, Millad®NX™8000, enables polypropylene to be processed at significantly lower temperatures of 374° F to 392° F, which is up to 104° F less than that required for traditional clarifiers. This saves energy and reduces cooling time, which speeds up the manufacturing process – further improving productivity and reducing CO₂ emissions.
Manufacturers can save more than 1,200 hours per 1,000 metric tons of polypropylene, versus other plastics, by using Millad®NX™8000 during processing.
All told, the products of chemistry save up to 11.1 percent of total U.S. energy consumption, according to an ACC study – enough to power, light, heat and cool up to 56 million homes or power 135 million vehicles annually.
These chemistry products and technologies save Americans up to $85 billion every year.