In a joint research project ECOPOX GmbH & Co. KG and the Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS) want to produce a novel, ecological liquid plastic that can be used as a sound-absorbing compound for automotive construction. The goal is make it easy to process, cost-effective and significantly more environmentally compatible than the currently available solutions.
Modern cars are equipped with sophisticated soundproofing systems. Common solutions for the sound deadening compounds (LASD; Liquid Applied Sound Deadener) used in this process in the vehicle interior are plastics used in solid (bitumen mats or epoxy systems) and liquid form (acrylate dispersions). However, disadvantages include processing, high weight, the use of environmentally harmful substances or odor emissions.
The novel approach will focus on the use of particularly sustainable raw materials. In the manufacturing process and in use, the focus is also on environmental friendliness, resource efficiency, excellent processability and health compatibility.
“ECOPOX has already developed and applied for a patent for the material, which consists largely of natural, renewable raw materials. This ecological liquid plastic shows promising material behavior for use in soundproofing systems, particularly with regard to vibration and damping behavior. In the project, we want to investigate the relationships between chemical structure, processing methods, microstructure and application-relevant physical properties in more detail. In this way, we are paving the way for transfer to large-scale production and application in automotive engineering. This is because manufacturers make very precise specifications regarding the properties and quality of such materials,” explains Prof. Mario Beiner, who heads the project at the Fraunhofer IMWS.
The research institute from Halle (Saale) provides its extensive expertise in the field of material-specific structure-processing-property relationships, including the development of material models. Crucial to the project are the competencies on flow properties of complex liquid systems, as well as on the description, prediction and control of structure formation processes during the curing of liquid multiphase systems. All play a decisive role in the application and drying process of the silencing compounds, determining the product properties. Equally significant are the possibilities of the Fraunhofer IMWS to elucidate the microstructure of materials used in the project.
“The existing ECOPOX formulation is to be investigated and optimized with regard to the fillers used, processability, thermal stability and crosslinking properties. The formulation, which will be further developed in terms of material structure and composition, is expected to offer advantages in terms of sprayability, pumpability, baking temperature and mechanical behavior. The in-depth findings will make it possible to control the damping properties specifically according to the specifications of end users, to shorten cycle times in production or to enable longer service lives”.
“We can contribute and further develop our knowledge of structure formation processes during the mixing and curing of highly filled polymer systems in the project. This should help establish a new, environmentally friendly solution for an important automotive application area that overcomes the weaknesses of previous silencing systems”, says Beiner.