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Drone Propellers On a Diet

The loud buzzing of the propellers quickly faded into an unobtrusive humming noise soon after the drone had taken off. Within a few seconds, it was merely a birdlike point in the blue sky. The familiar forest area – with its steep, towering cliffs in the north – looked so different from this perspective. Sitting on a rock at the edge of the forest, the pilot looked at his tablet and enjoyed the views being transmitted from the drone's camera.

The impressive agility and daring maneuvers of drones are only possible because companies like LANXESS have developed suitable high-performance plastics for them. When it comes to drone propellers, aspects such as material and weight are just as crucial as diameter and correct pitch. These propellers are generally made from plastics such as nylon, which are reinforced with carbon or glass fibers. However, the magic word at LANXESS is Durethan®. Durethan® is a versatile set of materials that seems to have been made with the delicate components of a drone in mind. In addition to blades and propellers, the materials can also be used for drone bodies and landing gear.

With its unique solution, LANXESS is putting drone propellers on a proper diet: Feather light, the material’s impact strength is extremely high. This means that drones can withstand falls from great heights. The use of plastics also helps reduce signal interference from metal materials. With high-performance plastics from LANXESS, drones fly higher, faster and further – as well as safer.

The Flying All-rounders

UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) have been around for decades. But the maneuverable aircraft have undergone rapid development in recent years. Following their initial use for military purposes, drones are now used in numerous private and business applications that will continue to be an integral part of daily life in the future. Photography, film, transport and hobby flying are all areas where companies, authorities, farms, agencies and rapidly growing number of private users have found applications for drones. In the travel, leisure, logistics and surveillance/security sectors, drone flights already represent an integral part of service scenarios and leisure activities.

Their use at sporting events and in surveillance has already become firmly established. Trials in parcel delivery are also running at full speed. What still sounds like a far off dream today could quickly become reality in a few years: Drones as a means of transport. Large transport and logistics companies are already researching solutions for integrating drones into the shipping business.

The images were incredibly sharp – whether zooming in with the camera or approaching the target directly. A sweeping turn over the treetops was followed by a rapid drop along the massive rock face. The drone pilot becomes increasingly bold with his maneuvers as he works the controls. But the drone is no longer responding. The built-in resource management had already calculated that the latest move would inevitably result in a crash before it could return to its take-off point. Why? Because the batteries are nearly dead.

Less Weight = More Flight Time

The drones of the future will pose some major design challenges. They will require long flight times and must be able to cover long distances while maintaining a connection with the pilot. At the same time, they should be as light as possible – after all, the drones should be able to carry some additional weight. Drones are like Formula 1 racing: Every gram counts. This season, Sebastian Vettel saved 50 grams by using a new lightweight helmet. This enabled him to drive 0.002 seconds faster per lap. An astonishingly small advantage, but it can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Higher, faster, further – this is also the motto among drone pilots. To achieve top performance, drones must be light and robust. Lighter materials reduce the weight of the drone. This in turn leads to less vibration and noise as well as longer flight times. In other words, the drones fly quieter, smoother and, above all, further.

Propellers and blades made of the high-performance plastic Durethan® from LANXESS stand out in other ways as well: optimum weight distribution, high flight stability and balanced mechanical properties. Propellers made of Durethan® last a (drone) lifetime, so to speak.

Conserving Resources

Approximately three million drones were sold worldwide in 2017. And the trend is rising. Whether in recreation or agriculture, in rescue operations or in the military: We are encountering drones with increasing regularity. In addition to producing breathtaking images from previously unattainable perspectives, the aircraft can provide real-time monitoring assistance. When ground-based vehicles are outmatched, drones are usually able to rise above all obstacles in flight. And, in contrast to tires, propellers do not wear out and therefore save resources.

“In view of the rapid development of the high-tech industry and the increasing popularity of electric drives, LANXESS sees additional, broad application potential for its products. Based on LANXESS products PA6, PA66 and PBT, we have developed innovative solutions to meet the demand for high-quality end products,” says Dr. Axel Tuchlenski, Head of Global Product and Application Development (GPAD). As a specialty chemicals supplier, LANXESS is systematically researching solutions to improve products, conserve resources and increase application efficiency.

Students Help Perth Amboy Site Celebrate Manufacturing Day

On Friday, November 3rd LANXESS' Perth Amboy, New Jersey plant hosted 40 chemistry students from the nearby Woodbridge High School for our 2017 Manufacturing Day, an exploration of careers in the chemical industry.

After lunch, students were given a Manufacturing Day Passport which they needed to fill throughout the day. This consisted of an experiment in the QC lab, success in some chemistry naming games (Mendeleev Darts and Chem Pong) and talking to at least two LANXESS employees about their career. With a completed passport, the students received a LANXESS drawstring backpack filled with information on LANXESS careers in manufacturing and some branded items. The students were then given a tour of the plant—which produces polyesters and polyurethane dispersions for LANXESS’ Urethanes Systems  business unit—and were introduced to a number of LANXESS employees who talked to the students about their career in chemistry and how they prepared for it.

We were also fortunate to have a visit by New Jersey State Assemblyman John Wisniewski who addressed the high-schoolers and underscored the importance of jobs in the chemical industry, and manufacturing jobs in general, to the State.

Flame Retardants: For Keeping Down the Heat

It’s the worst possible thing that can happen when you’re planning a pleasant evening in front of the TV: a sudden bang, and the television goes up in flames. Unfortunately, this occurrence isn’t as rare as you might think. Television fires repeatedly cause extensive property damage and even fatalities. Flame retardants like those marketed by LANXESS can inhibit or even prevent the outbreak of fire inside electronic devices – and therefore save lives.


Hot circuitry, shorts or accumulated dust clouds that ignite: all of these factors can cause a fire in electrical or electronic devices. Manufacturers therefore add a variety of chemical flame retardants to the various flammable materials. Flame retardants help to prevent fires entirely or delay their outbreak, giving people more time to escape to safety.



Preventing fires

Flame retardants are found not only in plastics for the electrical/electronics industry, but also, for example, in the polyurethanes used by auto manufacturers to cushion seats, roof liners, rear decks and side liners. LANXESS and its phosphorus-based Disflamoll®, Reofos® and Levagard® products are therefore reliable partners for all these applications. The specialty chemical company’s flame retardants are used everywhere highly flammable materials are found, for instance in flexible and rigid foams, fabrics and furniture, circuit boards, connectors and computer housings.



Good flame-retardant properties

Brominated flame retardants likewise are capable of protecting electronics against fire. They are also used in the construction industry in building insulation. In this sector, flame retardance requirements are on the rise particularly due to the trend toward energy-efficient construction.


LANXESS recently acquired the U.S.-based chemicals company Chemtura. Chemtura’s former business with brominated flame retardant additives, bromine and other bromine derivatives was merged with LANXESS’s existing phosphorus-based flame retardants business. Top brands include the Firemaster products, as well as the sustainable flame retardants in the Emerald Innovation line.


For more information, visit


Copyright Cover: fotolia 137560634

New RO Membrane Elements Impress in Practice

August 29, 2017.
Successful test: New reverse osmosis (RO) membrane elements from LANXESS with ASD feed spacers have undergone a trial in Germany’s largest industrial water treatment plant. More than 50,000 cubic meters of water are needed every day for pulp manufacturing at Zellstoff Stendal GmbH, Arneburg, and this is treated using reverse osmosis and ion exchange resins. The new grades impressed with their performance and consistently high level of rejection.Optimized for applications in brackish water, these Lewabrane-branded elements are characterized by very low energy consumption (LE = low energy) and high fouling resistance (FR = fouling-resistant).

“The outstanding results of our ASD products in benchmark tests with other manufacturers at one of the largest pulp manufacturers in Europe once again underline the extraordinary quality of our products,” says Alexander Scheffler, responsible for LANXESS’s global membrane business.

Consistently good performance

One year ago, Zellstoff Stendal launched a project to test LANXESS’s newly developed Lewabrane ASD range of membrane elements. This involved installing conventional reverse osmosis (RO) elements with a standard feed spacer and FR elements with LANXESS’s new ASD spacer in parallel in a single pressure vessel. Feed spacers are essential components for spirally wound membrane elements. They are made of polymer material and are optimized to ensure constantly good performance for a wide range of raw water compositions and various process parameters. The LANXESS spacers have a special “netting” that reduces biological growth and particle fouling by minimizing dead zones. The netting has an alternating strand design (ASD) of thin and thick filaments, which is what gives the spacer its name.

Frank Gorges, plant technician for water treatment at Zellstoff Stendal GmbH in Arneburg, was excited about the result: “We were very impressed by the performance of the ASD membrane elements from LANXESS. We test a lot of products in our plant and hardly any of them have been able to provide such consistently high results throughout an entire year.”

Fall in energy consumption

After one year, the elements were removed and taken to the applications laboratory LANXESS operates in Bitterfeld for an “autopsy.” Compared to a standard element, there was hardly any increased pressure drop along the element when using the ASD grades. This indicates less blockage from fouling or biological growth.

 Computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations had previously indicated that RO elements with ASD feed spacers would indeed be capable of achieving higher performance levels than standard grades. Furthermore, the tendency toward fouling in the element is reduced. “As we calculated, using the new elements reduces energy requirements while at the same time increasing service lives,” says Dr. Jens Lipnizki, head of Technical Marketing Membranes in the Liquid Purification Technologies (LPT) business unit at LANXESS.

Detailed information about products from the LPT business unit can be obtained online at

LANXESS Makes Toys Colorful

Professionals needed 5,805,864 building blocks to complete a 13-meter-high model of London’s Tower Bridge in Packington Hall, England. A world record! They spent a whole five months working on the famous landmark, and were finally able to present it to the public on September 28, 2016. Never before had so many plastic bricks from a single toy manufacturer been used to build one piece. Laid end-to-end, they would form a line reaching from Tower Bridge in London all the way to Paris. For the artists, this was enough to earn them an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.


When the manufacturers of toy plastic building blocks want to make the eyes of adults and children alike light up with excitement, LANXESS has the answer. Macrolex organic dyes are among the colorants used to give the bright building blocks their color. Not only are they completely safe for children and adults, they are also very color-intense. In addition to toys, these literally brilliant molecules can be found in a whole range of end products, such as car rear lights and plastic drinks bottles. These special products are manufactured in LANXESS’s organic colorant plant in Leverkusen. Alongside dyes for coloring plastics, the plant’s product portfolio also includes many other products that make the world a more colorful, brighter place. Inks, paints, laminate and high-end applications such as color filters for LCD screens in flat-screen televisions and smartphones all get their colors from colorants made in Leverkusen. The entire portfolio includes 150 different products. The multi-purpose facility achieves this using around 250 raw materials.



The quality of the color is the key to its success

 “Macrolex has now established itself as a global standard for quality in the dye industry,” says plant manager Axel Lache.

 The dyes are manufactured in the batch process, with the products being produced in individual batches one after another. “Nonetheless, we can manufacture up to 25 products at a time in our plant,” says Lache. This means that switching products entails significant outlay and effort. “It can take up to a week to clean and adapt the facility sufficiently so that we can be certain there will be no contaminants in the product,” explains production manager Michael Raab. “Our employees need a lot of experience for this. In extreme cases, it takes just 0.01 percent of blue in a batch of yellow to cause all that material to fall below the required standard, making it unsellable. The loss incurred can be equivalent to the value of a detached house.” High product quality is therefore vital. This quality includes both precise compliance with the color tone and an even color intensity, in other words, the amount of dye required to color a specific number of parts.


“We deliver our dyes and pigments to more than 800 customers worldwide,” says plant manager Lache. “And we use strictly defined recipes that must always lead to the same color outcome. In addition, a long service life is also part of the quality we promise. If you lay a 20-year-old red toy brick next to a new one, you will not see any difference in the color,” promises Lache.


Cover photo: fotolia 108994186@famveldman

August 15, 2017

Safe, heart-pounding fun


They are an indispensable part of any amusement park. Riding on them is a fun activity for many, but for others, the mere sight of a roller coaster is enough to make them feel queasy. And with good reason: the world’s fastest roller coasters tear around the narrow tracks at top speeds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour. But even the slower rides comfortably reach speeds of over 100 km/h. These speeds give passengers a huge thrill and a surge of adrenaline.

Always on track

The undercarriage ensures that the cars stay safely on the tracks of these steel monsters. It generally consists of three pairs of wheels per axle: the running wheels, the side friction wheels and the up-stop wheels. The coasters are often configured with double wheels. The running wheels, which are the largest of the three, are what keep the train running on the rails. The guide wheels attached to the side of the train prevent it from derailing on twisty tracks. The up-stop wheels grip the rails from below, which keeps the coaster train grounded. Therefore, each car is fixed to the rails from all directions


Withstanding the harshest conditions

The wheels of modern high speed rollercoasters are subjected to huge forces, so they are equipped with tires made of polyurethane. Polyurethanes are extremely versatile elastomer materials that confer strength and durability to wheels for roller coasters, wheels for inline skates and golf balls, as well as other high-performance recreational equipment. Urethane materials are resistant to wear and abrasion as well as to cut and tear and heat buildup. Urethane systems from LANXESS are designed to withstand the harshest conditions and to provide exceptional dynamic properties for those applications. The special elastomers are sold under the brand names ADIPRENE® and VIBRATHANE® (urethane prepolymers) and ULTRALAST® (urethane-based thermoplastic elastomers, TPUs).

Hot-cast polyurethanes can be formulated so as to absorb little energy during deformation and thereby only generate low levels of heat (low hysteresis). This prevents tires from heating up too much. Tire materials that generate less heat is better able to withstand high loads and speeds.


Higher Load Tolerances

Hot-cast polyurethanes are also advantageous in that they can be used to create harder elastomers. This means that they deform less than other elastomers under the same load. Heavy, repeated deformation can lead to the failure of lower hardness elastomers under high loads.

 Tom Peter, Technical Service and Development Director, North America, for the Urethane Systems business unit at LANXESS, explains that “the improved hysteresis and low energy loss mean that there is also lower rolling resistance, which is a crucial factor for wheels of both roller coasters and inline skates.”

All in all, the properties of cast polyurethane are an excellent match for the needs of the solid wheel market. Advances and improvements in cast polyurethanes have resulted in specialty, high value products that have even lower energy loss, higher abrasion resistance, cracking resistance, and high temperature performance, to meet the advanced needs of high performance wheel applications.

*Copyright: Fotolia_133491361

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