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Automotive, aviation sectors see huge potential in adopting high performance polymers and phenolics

High performance polymers (HPP) and phenolics have made considerable inroads into challenging automotive and aviation applications owing to their superior physical, chemical and mechanical properties. Technological advancements and strong R&D support along with robust testing and certification processes have further contributed to the rapid adoption of HPP and phenolics in Europe. Frost & Sullivan finds that significant advancements over the last decade in terms of improved heat, chemical and impact resistance, and enhanced aesthetics have cemented the market for HPP compounds in the under-the-hood (UTH) automotive segment. Meanwhile, fire, smoke and toxicity resistant properties make HPP suitable for use in aviation applications. With original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive and aviation industries continuously looking to lower the weight of their vehicles, polymer, composite and component manufacturers are working closely to develop HPP materials lighter than their metal equivalent.
“Further, the operating temperature in the engine compartment is constantly on the rise owing to OEM initiatives to reduce engine size,” said Frost & Sullivan Materials Senior Research Analyst Soundarya Shankar. “The need for reinforced materials that can withstand high temperature accelerates the use of HPP in Europe.”
However, glass and carbon fibre-reinforced materials too are gaining traction, eating into the share of HPP manufactures in Europe. In addition, HPPs such as polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), polyethylene imine (PEI) and phenolics compete with each other in a number of applications.High prices add to the challenge.
“Manufacturers must relentlessly strive to convince automotive OEMs and component manufacturers of the long-term benefits of HPP compounds,” urged Shankar. “It is also critical for material suppliers to offer an optimum price-performance index in order to facilitate uptake in newer applications.”
Over the next few years, the demand for customised solutions in the automotive and aviation industries will lead to partnerships among automotive OEMs and composite, component, resins and compound manufacturers in the European market.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration