50 years of progress with fluoropolymers

3M subsidiary Dyneon looks back on important innovations

(PresseBox) ( Neuss, )
The fluoropolymer applications range from frying pans to an astronaut's space suit. This magic plastic dramatically changed the world in the 20th century and still makes surprising advances possible today. The Dyneon GmbH fluoropolymer plant in Burgkirchen has played a major role in that. It is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding. With 600 employees at the Burgkirchen site, annual turnover of 250 million euros, an above-average rate of innovation and a production of about 17,000 tonnes per year, the 3M subsidiary Dyneon is one of the world's leading manufacturers of fluoropolymers. Dyneon is also a pioneer in the development of the first Up-Cycling process for the recovery of valuable monomers.

"We are proud to look back today on our 50 years of experience in the development and production of fluoropolymers. We would never have got this far without our customers and our employees", stresses Burkhard Anders, Managing Director of Dyneon GmbH, on the occasion of the anniversary.

It all began at the turn of the year 1964/1965 in the Gendorf works in Burgkirchen. Hoechst AG initially began here with the industrial production of 3M Dyneon PTFE TF 1600. Great things were expected of the fluoroplastic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Hoechst wanted to meet the growing demand for PTFE. The new plant was built for this purpose.

In 1996, a joint venture with 3M resulted in the founding of Dyneon GmbH, which was taken over completely by the US company at the turn of the millennium. Since then 3M has invested more than 200 million euros in the Burgkirchen site. Today it is one of the world's largest manufacturing plants for fluoroelastomers, fluorothermoplastics, PTFE and plastic additives.

Tough, all-purpose material

The extraordinarily tough, flexible and universally usable fluorine-carbon bond launched all the way into space. During the moon landing in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong wore boots with soles made of fluoroelastomers from Dyneon. In the 1970s the PTFE Dispersion from Dyneon conquered the kitchens - as a non-stick coating for frying pans. Today, cars, jets, machines, tools, industrial plants and nuclear power stations as well as outstanding architectural buildings and sports stadia contain roof membranes or coatings, seals, linings or connecting elements made of fluoropolymers.

"This high performance material is simply indispensable for many industries like plant engineering", says Dr. Hans Günther Beckers, Head of Sales and Marketing of the 3M Advanced Materials Division which Dyneon is part of. The strengths of fluoropolymers include chemical resistance, electrical insulating capability, elasticity and temperature stability. Fluoropolymers are often used for environmental protection. One of the latest developments is the PTFE-based "New Sealing Technology". The material is used, for example, for sealings in automotive and contributes to a reduction in oil leakage and wear, allowing maintenance intervals to be lengthened.

World's first Up-Cycling process for fluoropolymers

The Up-Cycling introduced in 2014 represents a major breakthrough. This process, developed by Dyneon, allows the recovered material loop of fluoropolymers to be closed for the first time. Around 90% of the monomers from fully fluorinated polymer industrial waste can now be recovered as virgin new material. A pilot plant with an annual capacity of 500 tonnes is being put into operation to coincide with the anniversary. The waste no longer has to be burned or disposed of at the waste tip. Among other things Dyneon can thus reduce the consumption of the natural raw material fluorspar.

Further innovations for environmental protection

Dyneon has often contributed to advances in PTFE technology. 3M invests about 5% of turnover annually in research and development. Hence, in 2002, robust fluoropolymers were introduced that do not become brittle down to minus 40 degrees Celsius. In 2005, Dyneon presented a plastic for the interior coating of tank pipes which is permanently resistant to biodiesel at high temperatures.

Among the greatest achievements is the entire substitution of the emulsifier ammonium pentadecafluorooctanoate (APFO) in the production of plastics. By the turn of the millennium Dyneon had already developed the world's first plant for the recovery of the emulsifiers in order to prevent the escape of residues into the surroundings. Environmental protection is a central topic for 3M. Dyneon received the Green Product Innovation Award in 2008 for the introduction of the substitute. Dyneon has done without APFO since 2009, the first fluoropolymer manufacturer to do so.
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