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01 Oct 2019
More and more plastic is ending up in the sea, polluting beaches and endangering seabirds. Recycling is an important way to ameliorate the problem.
Freudenberg Performance Materials (FPM) was an early pioneer of PET recycling. It was using recycled PET bottles as raw material for its products as far back as the 1990s at a time when they were still considered waste—and continues to do so. Today, the majority of its products contain sustainable recycled polyester fibres and its nonwoven carriers for bituminous membranes are made from 100 per cent recycled raw material.At its plants, FPM recycles 2.5 billion PET bottles every year. The reclaimed polyester is used to create nonwovens for use in roof waterproofing and thermal and acoustic insulation.
In modern buildings, high energy-efficiency and long component life are central aspects of economic efficiency. FPM offers a broad portfolio of high-tech nonwovens as well as composites and microfilament textiles that meet these requirements while focusing strongly on environmental impact.Technical textiles are powerfully effective for applications such as new mobility, energy transition, smart communication, sustainable clothing and future-oriented medical technology. G Sivasailam, Managing Director& CEO, FPM, shares more on its use and advantages in construction:
Versatile applications: Technical textiles for the construction industry are highly versatile and can be extremely well-processed. The range extends from nonwovens for roofing solutions to materials for building protection and geo-textiles for stabilising streets as well as railway beds. Further, buildings need roof waterproofing. FPM offers high-performing nonwoven carrier materials for bituminous membranes. Thermal insulation, anti-condensation, fire-resistance, vapour barrier, anti-cracking and liquid waterproofing carrier are necessary to preserve the building stock, support energy-efficiency and ensure safety standards.Additionally, in airports, auditoriums, metro stations, etc, there is a need for improved acoustics. FPM’s SoundTex is a nonwoven product that absorbs reflecting sound waves from ceilings, thus making all announcements clear despite the high level of ambient noise in such places.
Combining functionalities: Polyester nonwovens for the roofing industry combine good mechanical resistance with high elongation at break. Further, in the reinforced version with glass filaments, the combination of the flexibility of the polyester with the stability of glass allows excellent runability of the nonwoven, especially at high temperatures and when used on high-speed bitumen lines, thus giving the bituminous membrane outstanding dimensional stability and resistance over time. Indeed, customers are increasingly expected to demand solutions that combine different functionalities in one new product: for example, nonwovens that offer both excellent breathability and high water resistance.
The manufacturing: Nonwovens by FPM are manufactured using state-of-the-art technologies. The company works with the broadest technology platform in the market and combines its base technologies—drylaid, spunlaid, wet laid, meltblown, foams, knits and webs—with a wide variety of coating and finishing technologies. This enables it to tailorits offerings precisely to specific customer needs. For the construction industry, FPM offersa range of nonwovens using both dry-laid and spun-laid technology: Dry-laid nonwovens are made from staple fibres. The web formation takes place on roller cards with rotating workers and strippers. To achieve high fabric weights, cross lappersare used. Depending on the application, a large range of fibres can be used, such as glass fibres. In the spun-laid process, synthetic polymers in chip or flake form are extruded. The molten polymers, predominantly polypropylene, polyester or polyethylene, are first spun into endlessfilaments by spinnerets. Underneath the spinnerets, the filaments are cooled and stretched by air and are laid down on an apron in a continuous process.For recycling, PET bottles are first sorted, washed and ground into flakes. The flakes are converted to polyester fibres or used directly in the production of nonwovens. By using recycled raw material, natural resources, energy and water can be saved. The sustainable solutions and thermal insulation applications help run buildings more efficiently. Further, the process is eco-friendly as recycled fibres are used in thermal and acoustic insulation applications. The benefits of recycling are evident: less waste to dispose, saving natural resources, lower CO2 emissions, and reduced water consumption.
Going green: India is moving in the global direction of energy-efficient buildings with green certifications such as LEED. This energy-efficiency (thermal insulation) can be supported by the usage of bituminous membranes using nonwoven carrier materials. Many architects are already specifying these materials. Moreover, they look forward to such innovative products for a tropical country like ours.Another innovation adapted by India is the product Soundtex, which is mostly used in new airports like Delhi and Mumbai. In addition, most metro station roofs carry Soundtex backing. Evidently, India has embraced innovative products such as technical textiles and is hungry for new solutions!