Arkema awarded Pierre Potier prize with Altuglas® ShieldUp new lightweight and ultra-tough acrylic glass
Based on a nanostructuration technology of the material, this sheet offers an unprecedented number of properties: high impact resistance, unrivalled chemical stability,and perfect transparency regardless of temperature fluctuations. This combination of properties significantly expands the range of traditional uses for acrylic glass, in particular in the automotive industry: by replacing glass, which is twice as heavy, Altuglas® ShieldUp helps reduce the weight of vehicles and therefore fuel consumption.
PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate), known as « acrylic glass », is a transparent polymer with outstanding properties – superior to those of glass –, including high resistance to scratching and ageing. These qualities have made it aptly suited to many applications such as car rear clusters, illuminated signage, and store displays and fixtures.
It does have limitations, however: its impact resistance. In order to remedy this therefore, Altuglas International, an Arkema subsidiary, has developed the nanostructured acrylic glass sheet Altuglas® ShieldUp. This sheet combines two components - PMMA and an elastomer - which Arkema researchers have succeeded in organizing on a nanometric scale (billionth of a meter). The result is glazing that combines perfect transparency as well as mechanical and chemical strength, at any temperature, while maintaining the key properties of standard acrylic glass such as light weight, rigidity, and excellent resistance to scratching and ageing.
Altuglas® ShieldUp: a better carbon footprint for cars
50% lighter than glass, this new PMMA offers a combination of properties that expands its traditional scope of applications, meeting for example the challenge of panoramic roofs and side windows for the automotive industry that is seeking ever lighter and tougher materials in order to reduce fuel consumption in cars and so reduce CO2 emissions. “With this revolutionary product, we intend to help carmakers solve the problem of reducing the weight of vehicles. Reducing the weight of a car by 100 kg equates to reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 0.4 litre and 1 kg respectively for every 100 km” explains Frédéric Vartician, General Manager Sheet Business Europe.
Over and above its technological performances, Altuglas® ShieldUp boasts an excellent environmental performance: the material is fully recyclable and its lifecycle analysis, when used in cars, shows a smaller environmental impact than for glass.
Other valuable characteristics in the automotive sector
Unlike glass, the Altuglas® ShieldUp sheet is thermoformed and lends itself to the designing of complex shapes, without jeopardising its properties, particularly optical properties. Hence it fulfils the most exacting needs of automotive designers. Moreover, the nanostructuring of the acrylic sheet significantly boosts chemical resistance to aggressive agents such as alcohol and other cleaning products.
Altuglas® ShieldUp offers outstanding prospects for industries such as aerospace, new energies, and safety glazing.
Nanostructuring at the service of Altuglas® ShieldUp performance
Altuglas® ShieldUp has required 10 years of ongoing research at the Groupement de Recherche de Lacq (GRL) centre, and draws on a polymerisation technology developed by Arkema’s R&D that is unique in the world: the BlocBuilder® technology which ensures thorough control over the arrangement of PMMA polymer molecules and elastomer molecules on a nanometric scale. The result of this technology is an Altuglas® ShieldUp sheet that is more resilient to impact and retains complete transparency regardless of temperature.
1 Prize created in 2005 on the initiative of the French Ministry for Industry by the Union des Industries Chimiques (UIC –
French Chemical Industries Association) and the Fédération Française des sciences pour la Chimie (FFC – French
Federation of Chemical Sciences).