LuxusUK – A £600,000 ($907,000) grant will enable the Lincolnshire-based technical compounder and recycler to commercialise its Hycolene range of lightweight polypropylene (PP) compounds with up to 60% recycled content. The resulting products will be aimed at the interior trim market of the European automotive industry, which must now comply with an EU edict to reuse or recycle 85% of vehicle weight.

Luxus is collaborating with twin screw manufacturer Coperion for assistance with processing and with moulding supplier IAC for materials trials. It is also working with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), which will provide end user guidance to ensure that technical requirements are met.

Welcoming the EU funding, Luxus managing director Peter Atterby said, “This investment will enable us to effectively make a fundamental step-change in our technology as we aim to replace our filled compounds with next-generation reinforcing additives.”

The additives are billed as offering excellent tensile properties which do not affect the appearance of the moulded compound; a weight saving of up to 12%; and significantly improved scratch resistance. “The new grades will also offer a lower density than is currently provided, while still delivering up to 60% recycled PP,” stated Atterby. “The result of all this is that tier one moulding suppliers will be able to produce more parts per tonne of the mineral as they will benefit from a much faster cycle time. This will offset the slightly higher price these new advanced grades will require.”

With its existing infrastructure, Luxus faced a potential barrier to scale up its Hycolene grades; the EU investment has enabled it to purchase a new twin screw co-rotating extruder. This equipment will allow the company to optimise material properties and to produce the required tonnage. While capacity will be limited by access to local sources of recyclate PP, Luxus is preparing a patent application for its new advanced polymer technology process and will license its IP to selected compounders within the EU.
At full capacity, Luxus expects to gain a 2% share of the EU interior trim market by 2016. Atterby stated: “We believe that sustainable polymer technology has come of age, its performance is the same as virgin and therefore it should be priced the same – this is our message for Europe’s auto industry.”