The Pierre Potier prize has been rewarding chemistry innovations serving sustainable development since 2006. This year the top prize was awarded to Arkema for its new acrylic sheet, Altuglas® ShieldUp.
Acrylic glass or PMMA (polymethylmethacrylate) is a transparent polymer with outstanding optical properties superior to those of glass, including high resistance to scratching and ageing. It does have a limitation, however: its relatively poor impact resistance.
To remedy that, Arkema’s subsidiary, Altuglas International, developed the nanostructured acrylic glass sheet Altuglas® ShieldUp. This sheet combines two components - PMMA and an elastomer – which Arkema researchers have succeeded in organising on a nanometric scale (billionth of a metre). The result is glazing that combines perfect transparency with mechanical and chemical strength at any temperature, while maintaining the key properties of standard acrylic glass such as light weight, rigidity and excellent resistance to scratching and ageing.
50% lighter than glass, this new PMMA offers a combination of properties that expands its traditional scope of applications, meeting for example the challenge of panoramic roofs and side windows for the automotive industry that is seeking ever lighter and tougher materials in order to reduce fuel consumption in cars and so reduce CO2 emissions.
This combination of properties also offers prospects for development in industries such as aerospace, new energy and safety glazing.