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Automotive Industries spoke to Dr Jonathan Rich, president and CEO of Momentive Performance Material

Recently, the Connecticut-based Momentive Performance Materials launched its NXT Z* family of silanes in the United States. These silanes are used as coupling agents for silica tires. What makes them different is that the company claims they virtually eliminate ethanol emissions and help produce higher performing silica tires.
“NXT Z silanes represent a groundbreaking advancement for manufacturers of silica tires, underscoring our commitment to helping our customers meet their most challenging performance objectives with outstanding new science and research. NXT Z silanes may help control silica tire production costs and meet increasingly stringent environmental requirements, and also allow for improved wear, traction, tire life and overall product performance. We are very pleased to be able to offer NXT Z silanes to our US customers, and, in the near future, we expect to expand commercial availability globally,” said Mike Stout, global marketing manager, Momentive, during the launch.
The USD 2.5 billion Momentive Performance Materials is a premier specialty materials company that provides high-tech materials solutions to the silicones, quartz and ceramics markets. The company was created from the sale of GE Advanced Materials to Apollo Management, L.P. in December 2006. Momentive Performance Materials is the world’s second-largest producer of silicones and silicone derivatives and a global leader in the development and manufacture of products derived from quartz and advanced ceramics.

“These materials solutions are used as springboards for innovation in hundreds of consumer and industrial applications ranging from car engines to biomedical devices to integrated circuits. Industries served include aerospace, agriculture, appliances, automotive, construction, electronics, furniture and furnishings, healthcare, home care, industrial, lighting, packaging, personal care, plastics, semiconductor, telecommunications, tire, transportation, and water purification,” says the company.

Last year, the company launched its fully fluorinated silicone liquid elastomers or FFSLs at the K2007 trade fair for plastics and rubber held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Fluoro-silicones are widely used in automotive applications where excellent low temperature flexibility is required, along with the ability to withstand exposure to harsh environments created by fuel, oil, blow-by-gas, hot air, etc. The previous generation of fluorinated LSR, known as FSLs, withstood exposure to diesel/RME and hot oils, and Momentive’s new FFSLs offer the same capabilities. However, the new Momentive FFSLs also bring a full set of chemical resistance properties comparable to those offered by commercial peroxide curable fluoro-silicone heat cured rubber or FVMQ.

“We were seeking an improved solution to the automotive mass production applications that come in contact with fuels, oils or blow-by-gas. Therefore, we needed a family of products, such as 40 Shore A oil bleeding FFSL for connectors, a 70 Shore A FFSL for O-Rings and 50 to 60 Shore FFSLs for membranes, seals and gaskets. Within those potential application areas, the FFSLs may demonstrate cost efficiency through productivity gain and increase engineers’ design freedom for multi-component parts. We feel that this is one of the biggest innovations in the high-performance elastomer arena in the last few decades,” said Oliver Franssen, industry manager, Momentive.

Momentive Performance Materials future strategy includes expansion in fast-growth countries like India, China, Eastern Europe and Latin America. In line with this strategy, the company entered a 49:51 joint venture with Chinese company Zhejiang Xin’an Chemical Industrial Group Co to set up a USD 97 million facility that will manufacture siloxane. The plant, located in Jiande, Zhejiang province, will be operational in 2009.
Said Dr. Jonathan D. Rich, president and CEO, Momentive Performance Materials: “This joint venture in China demonstrates the company’s commitment to pursue acquisition opportunities, invest in new high-impact products, develop new market segments and applications, and find new customers in fast-growing economies. China is a strategic business region for Momentive – we will increase our investment continuously according to our plan, and further improve the silicone finishing facilities in the region. Furthermore, we will develop and foster highly technical engineering and R&D capabilities that enable product innovation, research and product development collaboration, and application customization for customers.”

Automotive Industries spoke to Dr Jonathan Rich, president and CEO of Momentive Performance Materials.

AI: Please tell us a little bit about Momentive’s automotive identity and future vision.

Momentive is one of the world’s largest suppliers of silicones that are used in many applications found in the automotive industry. It’s really amazing if you know where to look in car you can see all the places where silicones, because of their performance qualities, make a huge difference. We’re in engine seals, gaskets, sparkplug wires, weather-strip coatings, hard coating on the headlamps, motor mounts, fuel resistant o-rings, seat fabric, shine in the tires, and also in the tire tread to improve performance. Our future vision is to continue to produce innovative silicone products to meet the ever increasing, performance criteria for cars. Users of cars are demanding higher performance, more comfort, and better technology: engines that run at higher temperatures, tires that need lower rolling resistance, more quiet interiors, and more sophisticated electronic parts and gadgets. Momentive’s vision includes the needs and demands of our global customers and an investment strategy in the science and innovation to prepare for tomorrow.

AI: What has the industry reaction been to your NXT family of silanes – especially NXT Z?

Momentive customers have responded positively. The NXT* silanes offer options for enhanced tire performance and overall systems cost-efficiencies for tire manufacturers while maintaining other key attributes like wet and dry handling. The NXT silanes help the manufacturers improve their productivity with lower emissions.

AI: Your company has extensive experience in providing advanced silicone solutions that enable enhanced wear, tractions and rolling resistance – how has this helped the automotive industry?

There’s going to continue to be on-going demand for lower rolling resistance vehicles driven by fuel economies and the need for the automotive industry to meet CAFÉ regulations. We’re working together with tire manufacturers to ensure that the necessary technologies are available to meet the ever-demanding needs.

AI: Your future strategy includes growth in fast growing countries like China, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America – are you setting up more facilities in these countries?

Yes, we currently have five manufacturing facilities in greater China and have recently announced the construction of a new manufacturing facility in India so we have invested in the rapidly growing economies to meet the demands of our customers around the world.

AI: How important is the automotive sector to your business and how do you hope to increase your exposure to this market?

The automotive sector is one of the largest sectors for silicone materials use. We have a long history of supplying high performance materials to the industry and we expect our relationships to continue and grow. As automotive manufacturers globalize, we are excited to grow with our customers that are increasing production in emerging regions around the world.

* NXT is a registered trademark of Momentive Performance Materials Inc.

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