A new partnership has been announced to accelerate the introduction of affordable hybrid silsesquioxane resins to enhance the performance of coatings, adhesives and bulk polymers.
Thomas Swan & Co. Ltd. has joined TWI to commercialise their patented Vitolane® technology - a novel, lower-cost manufacturing route for silsesquioxanes which allows a high level of functional versatility.
Silsesquioxanes have a ceramic (silicon-oxygen) backbone with organic groups attached and aim to combine the benefits of polymers and ceramics in their performance and flexibility.
These organic-inorganic resins can be tailored to offer a range of functions to coatings, adhesives and bulk polymers such as improved abrasion resistance, increased resistance to heat and solvents and better barrier properties.
The technology is being actively investigated for industrial applications such as durable coatings for white goods and consumer electronics, hard optically-clear coatings for DVDs and CDs, flexible packaging and novel low-viscosity adhesives.
Other performance opportunities include both hydrophobic and hydrophilic characteristics for marine and offshore applications as well as anti-fogging for glazing, optical equipment and displays and graffiti and mark-resistant surfaces. High temperature tolerance is also a key benefit.
The adoption of silsesquioxanes has been compromised by the high-cost manufacturing methods available to date. TWI have been able to considerably enhance yield using their Vitolane® technology while increasing the versatility to produce multi-functional silsesquioxanes.
"TWI has break-through technology to make the key performance benefits of silsesquioxanes much more accessible to industry" says Russell Clarke of Thomas Swan. "Our partnership with TWI will create a secure manufacturing base to produce and supply these materials and so accelerate their adoption across a wide range of applications."
Thomas Swan has a history of commercialising emerging technologies and is already highly active in coatings and nanomaterials. The company has alliances with a wide range of research organisations to pilot promising technologies to commercial-scale manufacturing at its advanced plant in Consett, County Durham, UK.
"TWI is delighted to be in partnership with our Industrial Member company Thomas Swan for the manufacture and commercialization of Vitolane® technology", says Roger Wise of TWI. "This collaboration will pave the way for the exploitation of the technology in a wide variety of applications."
The announcement marks another development of Swan's extensive performance chemicals portfolio which covers specialised additives and reagents for coatings, inks polymer and rubber processes as well as advanced nano-materials for the electronics industry.
Further technical information:
Silsesquioxanes have a ceramic (silicon-oxygen) backbone with organic groups ('pendants') attached. The molecules are usually described as either cage or ladder structures. The pendants (the 'R' groups) are selected from a wide range of organic functional groups, including acrylate, epoxy, vinyl, fluorocarbon, etc., type molecules and may be reactive or non-reactive. The silsesquioxane may have only one type of R group attached (single functionalised) or may have two or more groups attached (multi-functionalised).
The versatility of the Vitolane® process allows oligomers to be readily produced which are compatible with a given class of formulation, for example, an acrylic functionalised molecule may be selected for blending with conventional acrylate oligomers and monomers. Silsesquioxane molecules are readily generated in liquid form and can therefore be introduced early and easily in the formulation process, whether to existing formulations or in the creation of new ones. This formulation approach may be used to create a wide range of adhesives, coatings or bulk materials.
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