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Materials scientists at Federal-Mogul have developed a material that is claimed to eliminate a costly and energy-intensive curing process used throughout the industry.

The elastomeric compound, called K16, improves Federal-Mogul’s technology in Unipiston bonded hydraulic clutch pistons and enables the company to reduce the environmental footprint of its manufacturing operations with significant reductions in CO2 emissions and natural gas consumption.

Federal-Mogul claims to be the first company to develop such a system for manufacturing high-performance rubber products.

Unipiston bonded pistons convert hydraulic pressure into the mechanical force needed to engage clutch packs in automatic and dual-clutch transmissions.

Federal-Mogul’s first application of the new moulding technique eliminates the oven post-cure process from the production of the elastomeric seals used in its Unipiston products.

The production of bonded piston seals has historically required that the parts are baked, or cured, in an oven for up to 12 hours at approximately 175C.

By eliminating the oven post-cure process, Federal-Mogul calculates that the annual natural gas consumption at its Frankfort, Indiana, plant alone will decrease by 40 billion BTUs, preventing nearly 2,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.

This reduction in energy consumption is roughly equivalent to the annual energy requirements of 370 average homes in the US.

With the new process, Federal-Mogul is demonstrating that developing new technology can offer both environmental and commercial benefits.

The finished K16 seal meets or exceeds the performance of previous seals both in terms of wear resistance and life expectancy, and is based on proven long-chain elastomers.

Elastomers are normally formed by cross-linking millions of polymer molecules through vulcanisation, which is traditionally carried out in two steps.

In the first step, known as press cure, the elastomeric compound is forced into a mould that defines the desired shape.

In this step, vulcanisation is initiated by subjecting the compound to heat and pressure.

Until now, the second step of vulcanisation occurred during oven post cure, during which the compound is kept at a constant, elevated temperature for an extended period of time.

The successful introduction of K16 on the company’s Unipiston product range is in production for several major OEMs.

Plans are underway to integrate this innovation at Federal-Mogul facilities around the world.

In the first application of K16 technology at Federal-Mogul’s Frankfort manufacturing facility, parts can now be transferred directly from moulding to shipping, bypassing the old oven post-cure process and reducing part processing time.

Implementation of the company’s K16 technology has generated additional benefits at the Frankfort plant, including reductions in part travel distance and work-in-process inventory.


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