• James Walker and Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) will conduct a joint research program into sustainable high performance sealing materials.
• The research programme will use high throughput techniques to develop and identify novel elastomer compounds that comply with proposed PFAS regulations, for use in critical industrial applications.
Privately owned, British, advanced engineering and manufacturing group James Walker, has partnered with the International Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick, to start a 24-month collaboration with Dr Chaoying Wan ’s team to develop novel high performance sealing compounds which will be compliant with future PFAS regulation.
On February 7th 2023, the European Chemicals Agency announced a proposal for the European Economic Area that will effectively lead to a ban on all PFAS materials, due to their persistence in the environment. Further regulation of PFAS are also being assessed by other governments across the globe.
Conventional high performance sealing compounds rely on PFAS (Per- and Poly- FluoroAlkyl Substances) as these materials are resistant to extremes of temperature and aggressive chemicals. PFAS are critical to the semi-conductor, aerospace, petrochemical, defence and nuclear industries for example, and there are currently no suitable alternative materials available. Alternative sealing materials are urgently needed to replace PFAS.
Dr Mike Eason, James Walker Sealing Division, Technical and Quality Director commented “Developing alternatives to PFAS elastomers is a global issue with supply chain impact already seen. I am delighted that we will work with Dr Wan and her team to identify and develop materials which will help industry be compliant with the proposed regulations.
This partnership will accelerate James Walker’s development of seal materials for critical industry. WMG has small scale, advanced, mixing capability, with knowhow regarding nano-fillers and polymer science that will allow James Walker to rapidly design, manufacture and screen bench-scale test formulations. I believe the combination of James Walker’s history and expertise in critical industrial sealing together with WMG’s state of the art capabilities will enable rapid development and commercialisation of materials. James Walker is committed to finding PFAS compliant alternatives that will meet the challenges faced by global industry.”
WMG has an international reputation for working successfully with industry, with a history of partnering with pioneering entities, including Jaguar Land Rover, BAE Systems and Goodyear amongst many others.
This collaboration will draw on the university’s extensive expertise in Elastomer and Polymer technology. Dr Chaoying Wan, Reader of Functional Polymers and Nanocomposites at WMG, University of Warwick explains “Collaborating with James Walker to develop alternatives for PFAS seals is an important and exciting opportunity. Our elastomer research facility is supported by High Value Manufacturing Catapult Centre (HVMC) , equipped with the latest technology, including a rubber process analyser (RPA) with wide temperature range – it is the only one in the UK, and one of only a few in the world with the capability to simulate dynamic elastomer performance at very low temperature. This function is extremely useful to compare differences in formulation design for applications such as high pressure or low temperature sealing. I am very much looking forward to working with the James Walker team on the development of new material options for high performance sealing applications and advancing our knowledge of polymer formulation and performance.”
The research partnership will commence work in June this year and it is expected that this will provide an important boost to work that James Walker is already undertaking with its customers and supply chain aimed at developing the next generation of sealing solutions, including alternatives to current PFAS options.
By James Walker and Co Ltd