Graphitic Polymer Additives: A Superior Solution

Graphitic Polymer Additives for Polymer Applications

FormulaPT™ are carbon and graphitic polymer additives, specifically developed by Superior Graphite for ever-changing polymer market. In plastics, graphite is used as an additive mainly for improving tribological and conductive characteristics. FormulaPT™ brand includes synthetic and natural graphite powders in non-purified and thermally purified forms, calcined petroleum coke and our unique Resilient Graphitic Carbons (RGC™). In addition to offering lubrication by lowering the Coefficient of Friction (CoF), our proprietary RGC™ fillers also reduce wear, which is certainly unique in polymer tribology field. Thermally treated graphite significantly increases thermal and electrical conductivity of the composites when used as a polymer additive. Processing carbonaceous materials in Superior Graphite’s proprietary Electro-Thermal Treatment/Purification process removes organic and inorganic impurities such as quartz, silica, and iron, which could act as abrasives. Thermally purified graphitic material is inert, which offers chemical stability. These high purity graphitic additives can also be used for food and water contact applications. FormulaPT™ products are used in a variety of applications including engineered and high-performance thermoplastics, thermal set resins, PTFE, coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers.

Tribological Performance

As part of the FormulaPT™ product line, Resilient Graphitic Carbons (RGC™) are unique graphitic materials that exhibit extremely high resiliency, lubricity, and purity. They are very effective in friction modification in advanced technology applications like plain bearings, torque limiters, water meters, and pumps.

Layered crystal structure of graphite contributes to its lubricious behavior. Due to its ability to slide through the weakly bonded layers under load/pressure, graphite has found applications in friction modification of polymer composites. Graphite is the best choice amongst the solid lubricants for reduction of the Coefficient of Friction (CoF), especially in wet, underwater or humid conditions. While in general graphite has limited contribution to the wear reduction and at high load/stress conditions wear rates are increased, our Resilient Graphitic Carbons RGC™ material is manufactured from premium carbon sources selected by Superior Graphite. RGCs offer high resiliency in an extremely pure form of carbonaceous material as a result of our proprietary high temperature purification process. This material has proven beneficial in a number of advanced technological applications. A 5-15% addition of finer grade RGC™ has proven to improve wear resistance along with friction of Epoxy, PEEK, PAI, PA66, PPS and PI polymers. At same time, the mechanical properties of polymers, such as Tensile Strength, are minimally affected while using RGC™, unlike with alternative materials like Synthetic Graphite.

The abrasive wear and surface fatigue or destruction are counteracted by the resilient/elastic behavior of the RGC™ additives, as per our hypothesis. This product is partially graphitized and has higher porosity, which plays a major role in peculiar properties like resiliency, sound dampening, wear rate and friction reduction, heat dissipation, shock wave mitigation, and others. RGCs combine properties of both graphite and coke.

EU Food Contact Compliance

Polymers are finding more and more applications in the food handling and processing equipment in industries and households that use graphite for metal replacement, to lower cost, or for corrosion resistant purposes. Modified polymers that use graphite are particularly suitable for demanding applications that require materials to be conductive or lubricious. Graphite modified polymers are the best solution for self-lubricating parts in environments that cannot accommodate liquid lubricants.

In European market, graphite is permitted to be used as an additive in plastics materials which are intended to come in contact with food, without any specific migration limits. However, only the purest substances are suitable for this application, even if no specifications are listed in the Union list of the Plastics Regulation (EU) No 10/2011. Also, the impurities need to be considered as the Non- Intentionally Added Substances (NIAS) in accordance with Article 3(9) of the Plastics Regulation. To ensure that our carbonaceous materials are of technical quality and purity, Superior Graphite uses its proprietary Electro-Thermal Treatment/Purification Technology, which exposes carbon and graphite materials to temperatures approaching 3,000°C. The resulting material possesses a high carbon content and is virtually free of impurities. Removal of volatile gases and select heavy materials creates a highly ordered crystalline structure with exceptional purity, consistent quality, and increased resiliency, lubrication, and thermal and electrical conductivity. Products for food contact applications undergo both physical and chemical analyses to guarantee purity. Our continuous process technology, the only one in the industry, allows us to produce large quantities at a much faster pace and more cost-effectively than traditional batch processing.

R&D Lab

In 2019, to continue with further product innovation in polymer additives and other areas, Superior Graphite has invested in an updated R&D laboratory located adjacent to our existing production facility in Bedford Park, IL. The facility includes offices overlooking the lab areas for easy access and monitoring, spaces for dedicated scientists, as well as supplies and equipment that will assist in developing premium products for customers.

Edward Carney, President and CEO for Superior Graphite, said “The enhanced capabilities and work flow of the new laboratory not only fulfill the vision of our strategic plan but are also synchronized with the added requirements expected by our customers. In addition, the layout also provides for added collaboration and research possibilities, which is envisioned will lead to new product development.” Carsten Wehling, Executive Vice President, Innovation and R&D, stated “The new lab will allow for enhanced product development and will also provide the infrastructure necessary to conduct advanced analytical work that will support our cutting edge, high purity graphite production”.

About Superior Graphite

Innovating since 1917, Superior Graphite provides continuous electro-thermal treatment/purification of graphite and carbons, advanced sizing, and custom-mix technologies for energy/ thermal management, metallurgy (iron & steel), friction modification, drilling material additives, non-oxide ceramics, and polymers/CASE materials around the globe. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Superior Graphite offers technologies and a consultative approach that give engineers access to purpose-manufactured materials, with unparalleled consistency that deliver confidence. In addition, our precision grinding and sizing technologies translate into an unmatched ability to alter and customize product attributes to suit specific requirements, making commercialization more efficient and reliable.

Electro-Thermal Treatment/Purification Technology

Superior Graphite’s unique technology for high-temperature treatment/purification of carbonaceous materials is based on a resistant-heated fluidized bed. This electro-thermal continuous process is used to consistently treat and/or purify granulate calcined petroleum coke, natural flake graphite and other carbonaceous materials at temperatures approaching 3000°C.

Through fluidization in an inert gas stream, precursor materials are purified, and simultaneously the other properties such as crystallinity, lubricity and resiliency are improved as the materials pass through the high temperature bed.

Grinding and Sizing Capabilities

Since 1917, the grinding and sizing of granular materials has been at the core of Superior Graphite’s business. Our continuous investment in the latest technology in milling, blending, and classification systems, along with our engineering focus on the characterization of carbon and graphite, allow us to economically deliver premium quality graphite, carbons, and custom carbon blends with precise particle size and morphology control. Superior Graphite operates milling, grinding, and classifying equipment to provide our products in the particle size and morphology required by different applications. These range from smooth roll crushing, to air jet milling, to attrition milling for product size ranges from around 1000 microns down to 1 micron. The choice of which technology to utilize for sizing or mixing depends on the type of natural or synthetic graphite, cokes or carbons, or related materials to be treated, as well as the requirements of the targeted customer application regarding particle size distribution, shape, morphology, or product mix.

For more information, please contact:

Rijo Jacob Robin | Technical Product Manager