Gharda to set up a new plant in India for PEEK

India-based Gharda Plastics, the engineering polymers division of petrochemicals firm Gharda Chemicals, plans to open a commercial scale plant in Panoli for making specialised engineering resins polyetherketone (PEK), polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and polybenzimidazole (PBI), using what it says is a new production method. The company will decide final capacity and investment details later this year, and is aiming to start up the facility by April 2015, said Prakash Trivedi, Head of the polymer strategic business unit for Gharda.

Trivedi said the company process for making PEK is produced with a single monomer and is based in chlorine rather than fluorine like other PEK manufacturers. He said PEK capacity could be up to 1,000 tonnes/year.

He also explained that Gharda is the first in India to offer two kinds of wear grades, G-PAEK 1230FCT and GAZOLE 6430FCT, that have easy flow characteristics for injection moulding of intricate multi-cavity parts. With a heat deflection temperature of 350°C-360°C makes them suitable for demanding high heat resistance applications. The grades are also said to be superior in performance to the commercially available engineering alternatives of polyether imides (PEI), Polyimide (PI), poly phenylenesulphide (PPS) and PEEK and exhibit exceptional wear, chemical and thermal resistance. Additionally, the G-PAEK & GAZOLE FCT grades display excellent mechanical properties, creep properties and dimensional stability, according to Gharda. And though PTFE has a low coefficient of friction, its wear resistance especially at high temperatures is poor. The FCT grades also have low coefficient of friction, and display low wear rates even at high temperatures.

The company has been researching the new grades for the last few years, and has been producing some of them in pilot or semi-commercial volumes at an existing Gharda petrochemical plant in Ankleshwar, in the state of Gujarat, 250 km north of Mumbai.

The comparable specific flexural strength of G-PAEK & GAZOLE FCT grades to metals provides a significant cost savings potential to the manufacturer. Gharda says its high performance thermoplastics offer weight savings, easy machining and moulding options with greater design flexibility. This allows the customer to produce parts with challenging geometries as required. It eliminates the costly production steps that are necessary for metals.

The high fatigue strength and high wear resistance with temperature make G-PAEK and GAZOLE FCT grades suitable in the automotive/transportation segment for gears, bearings and bushes. Other key applications of FCT grades are in printer parts and textile parts such as thrust pads, roller bearings and dry lubricating bushes that are continuously moving at low to high speeds and at high temperatures.

The firm's polyetherketone ketone process is also made with a unique process Gharda developed, using two monomers instead of three as is traditional, while the PBI is made with a single monomer rather than two monomers, Trivedi said. When the new plant in Panoli opens it will also make the monomers the firm uses, and the company believes it can manufacture the three polymers cheaper in India.


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