Empower Materials Inc. is the producer of QPAC®, the world’s cleanest thermally decomposable organic/sacrificial binders. QPAC® cleanly decomposes into CO2 and water in many types of atmospheres and leaves virtually no residue. This property contributes to QPAC®‘s widespread usage in many demanding applications.
QPAC® poly(alkylene carbonate) copolymers are a unique family of innovative thermoplastics representing a true breakthrough in polymer technology. While traditional plastics have been primarily petroleum-based, these materials are derived from carbon dioxide and are produced through the copolymerization of CO2 with one or more epoxides. The resultant polymers are amorphous, clear, readily processible, and have long-term mechanical stability. They are also environmentally friendly by consuming 50% fewer petrochemicals, as compared to other polymers which are 100% petrochemical-based. In addition, they may exhibit biodegradable properties consistent with an environmentally friendly binder.
QPAC®25, polyethylene carbonate, and QPAC®40, polypropylene carbonate, are the two most widely used products within our family of binders. However, there is a wide range of QPAC® polymers possible by varying the epoxide monomer or using blends of epoxides to produce a specific reaction. Our technical group has the expertise to effectively work with you to develop the appropriate product for your application.
Production Capabilities of Empower Materials
Empower Materials is the world’s only commercial manufacturer of polyalkylene carbonates. Empower Materials can make large quantities (1000’s kgs) of QPAC®25, polyethylene carbonate, QPAC®40, polypropylene carbonate, and QPAC®100- a terpolymer of polypropylene carbonate and polycyclohexene carbonate.
Additionally, a wide range of other QPAC® polymers is possible via the substitution of oxiranes (epoxides) using the same production equipment configuration. In addition to QPAC®25, QPAC®40, and QPAC®100 (polypropylene carbonate, polyethylene carbonate, and polypropylene carbonate/polycyclohexene, respectively). The following have been successfully synthesized on pilot scale equipment:
QPAC®60 (poly-butylene-carbonate) and QPAC®130 (poly-cyclohexene carbonate)
Empower Materials also has the technology to modify the polymer’s molecular weight across a very broad range.
QPAC® Polymers as Nanoparticle Binders
Nanopowders and nanocomposites behave differently than traditional powders. Their unique properties also require unique additives and processing. QPAC®25 and QPAC®40 superior burnout characteristics, including low-temperature decomposition and exceptionally low residue levels, offer properties demanded by these nanoparticles.
QPAC®40 polypropylene carbonate and QPAC®25 polyethylene carbonate are used as a binder in several nano-related applications. QPAC® is used as a sacrificial material in MEMS applications. Other applications include bonding of nanopowders to silicon substrates including silicon wafers and in nanopowder coating applications.
Properties of QPAC® Polymers in Nanoparticle Binder Applications
The growing interest in QPAC® as an organic nanoparticle binder can be attributed to the following properties:
- QPAC® is compatible with a variety of nanopowders including metals and ceramics.
- Both QPAC®25 polyethylene carbonate and QPAC®40 polypropylene carbonate are naturally tacky and their degrees of plasticity can be adjusted as necessary.
- Decomposition is complete through three phases; solid, liquid, and vapor.
- Upon decomposition, QPAC® leaves very low ash residue with the complete burnout of carbon.
- QPAC® decomposes completely between 200 to 300°C which can be as much as or more than 100°C below the decomposition temperature of other binders.
- QPAC® binders are also unique in that they burn out mild, without violent gas formation. Thus, whether the process operates in an oxidizing, reducing, or inert atmosphere, there is less cracking in the part.
These properties result in structures with superior properties compared to structures prepared with more conventional binders. Additionally, QPAC®40 polypropylene carbonate and QPAC®25 polyethylene carbonate use up to 50% fewer petrochemicals than traditional plastics.