When petrochemical company Shell discontinued its production of polyketone (PK) in 2000, news about the material has been quieter. Many companies that used to process the material have been unable to find an adequate alternative and have had to stock up on remaining quantities that were still available.
Efforts have been made in South Korea in recent years to bring back the polymer. In 2011, Hyosung erected a pilot plant and later took a regular production line with a capacity of 50 kt / year into operation in Ulsan, Korea in mid-2015.
“We distribute these raw polymers in Europe and Latin America in the three standard types of high-flow, medium-flow and high-impact,” said Lukas Musial, Head of Polymers & Compounding Technology at KD Feddersen Ueberseegesellschaft. “The focus is clearly on the extrusion industry with an emphasis on compounding.”
Aliphatic polyketone has some interesting properties that cannot be matched by any other polymer in this combination. For instance, the resilience of PK is significantly higher than that of polyoxymethylene (POM) and polyamide 12 (PA 12). The stiffness of the unmodified PK is 1,500 MPa and therefore on par with PA 12, however, the terpolymer of PK only melts at a temperature of 220° C, which is 40° C higher than that of PA 12.
The resistance of Polyketone is one of the greatest advantages of this material. This is how Polyketone can resist corrosion due to mild acids that would normally decompose long-chain polyamides such as PA 12. Polyketone even is resistant against halogenated hydrocarbons and aldehydes. Only very strong acids and alkalis are able to corrode this resistant structure.
In addition to its very good technical properties, the polymer is also characterised as climate-friendly due to its chemical composition. As a monomer, PK uses carbon monoxide (CO), which is regarded as a climate killer.