Luxus gets investment for sustainable polymer technology

Posted on 9 Jan 2015 by The Manufacturer

The UK technical compounder and recycler Luxus has announced that it has been awarded an EU grant to commercialise its Hycolene range of lightweight polypropylene (PP) compounds, with up to 60% recycled content to target the European automotive interior trim market.

Luxus compounding process.

This investment will significantly boost the Luxus’ lightweight PP range and will enable the EU automotive industry to increase its use of recycled content polymers to satisfy both ELV and increasing emissions targets.

Luxus will be collaborating on this project with twin screw manufacturer Coperion to help with complex processing, tier 1 moulding supplier IAC for materials trials and Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). The auto-manufacturer will be providing end user guidance on the project to ensure the technical requirements are met, allowing exploitation of this technology in future auto applications across the industry.

By January 2015 the European auto industry must re-use and recycle 85% of the vehicle’s weight. At the same time the performance requirements for car interior trims are steadily increasing too. Improved scratch-resistance for a high quality finish; greater stiffness and a lower weight per part are criteria increasingly demanded by manufacturers today.

Luxus managing director, Peter Atterby, commented: “We’re pleased that the commercial potential of our Hycolene range has been recognised by the EU. This investment will enable us to effectively make a fundamental step change in our technology as we aim to replace our filled compounds with next generation reinforcing additives.

“These additives offer excellent tensile properties that don’t detract from the appearance of the moulded compound, yet their adoption reduces weight by up to 12% per part and significantly improves scratch resistance to meet industry standards.

“The new grades will also offer a lower density than is currently provided, while still delivering up to 60% recycled PP. The result of all this is that tier 1 moulding suppliers will be able to produce more parts per tonne of the mineral as they will benefit from a much faster cycle time. This will offset the slightly higher price these new advanced grades will require.”

A potential barrier for Luxus until now has been how to scale up its Hycolene grades using the existing infrastructure. As a result of this investment, it’s been able to purchase a new twin screw co-rotating extruder. This will enable the business to optimise the materials properties demanded for this project and at the same time ensure the expected tonnage is achieved.

Luxus expects to gain a 2% share of the EU interior trim market by 2016, when it will be at full capacity. Peter Atterby concluded: “The success of this project isn’t down to just technology and knowledge alone. We believe that sustainable polymer technology has come of age, its performance is the same as virgin and therefore it should be priced the same – this is our message for Europe’s auto industry.”