Celanese and Safic-Alcan DKT interview

Celanese and Safic-Alcan DKT interview

Driving Sustainable Change:  The Dynamic Partnership of Celanese and Safic-Alcan.

Welcome to our in-depth interview of the dynamic partnership between two industry references, Celanese and Safic-Alcan, as we delve into their collaborative endeavors and innovations within the rubber industry.  

In this exclusive interview, we'll uncover the genesis of their partnership and the core values that unite the two companies through the point of view of Csaba Holop,  Vice President of Elastomers for Celanese, and Philippe Cenreaud, Managing Director Performance Products at Safic-Alcan. 

As the global transportation landscape undergoes a monumental shift towards electrification, we'll examine the pivotal role of VAMAC®, an unmatched ethylene acrylic elastomer (AEM) originally developed by the DuPont firm and has become part of Celanese since November 1, 2022. We'll uncover how VAMAC®AEM offers distinct advantages in terms of good processing, combined with excellent properties and possibilities such as resistance to tailored e-fluids, compounding for flame retardancy, and low gas permeation, perfectly aligned with the evolving needs of e-mobility applications. 

The companies will shed light on the significant impacts of these advancements on the automotive industry's environmental footprint, setting new benchmarks for sustainable manufacturing practices. 

Furthermore, we'll highlight the collaborative spirit that drives success in the business world, as exemplified by Celanese and Safic-Alcan, uncovering key examples of successful projects between these two industry leaders and how these collaborations have fueled their growth and cemented their positions as market leaders. 

Lastly, as Safic-Alcan and Celanese showcase their latest innovations at DKT 2024, we'll provide a glimpse into the exciting novelties and product lines awaiting attendees at their joint booth. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of this dynamic partnership, shaping the future of the rubber industry through innovation, sustainability, and collaboration. 

Can you share with us the genesis of the partnership between Safic-Alcan-Alcan and Celanese in the rubber industry? What common goals or values brought your companies together?

Csaba Holop : Celanese is a global leader in the supply of thermoplastics that are sold to injection molders, blow molders, extruders and other manufacturers of these materials. Vamac® AEM is a different type of material: a real elastomer which receives its final part shape by vulcanization, and typically is compounded with other materials to add functionality to a final part. We recognized that we would benefit from the support of a strong partner who knew the rubber industry and could help introduce Vamac® AEM to manufacturers we might never encounter in the thermoplastics world.  

After an intense search and many discussions, we recognized that Safic-Alcan had the experience and network that we sought. Just as important to us, the people at Safic-Alcan were people with whom we would enjoy collaborating. Smart, professional, engaged; it is a culture that mirrors that in our own company. We have been collaborating with Safic-Alcan since the invention of Vamac® AEM in 1974. and are very pleased with the development of our partnership. 

Philippe Cenreaud : For over 175 years, Safic-Alcan has developed innovative solutions for its principals and clients.  
The partnership between Safic-Alcan and Celanese in the rubber industry is rooted in a shared commitment to innovation and excellence in providing high-quality elastomer solutions.  
This collaboration began with Safic-Alcan’s longstanding relationship with DuPont de Nemours, the original developer of Vamac® AEM. When Celanese acquired the Vamac® product line in November 2022, it was a natural progression for Safic-Alcan to continue its distribution, given its extensive history and expertise in the market. Safic-Alcan has an exclusive agreement for Vamac® distribution throughout Europe. 

Our common goals revolve around driving advancements in engineered rubber applications.  
Both companies value strong customer relationships, continuous improvement, and sustainable practices. Our partnership is built on a foundation of trust, shared vision, and the mutual objective of pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the rubber industry. 

With the global shift towards electrification in transportation, what specific advantages does VAMAC® offer in terms of resistance to tailored e-fluids, flame retardancy, and low gas permeation, and how do these attributes align with the evolving needs of e-mobility applications?

CH : Vamac® AEM has long been an important material for manufacturing seals, gaskets, hoses and other critical applications in the automotive industry. Until recently most of these applications were in vehicles with internal combustion engines, of course. But in the past years we see strong interest from companies manufacturing similar components, but for electrified vehicles.  

As good as Vamac® AEM has been for ICE-powered vehicles, its value seems to be even greater for EVs. Why? There are a few reasons. Motors and batteries are still being developed for EVs, and there is not an industry standard. Vamac®’s ability to withstand heat and many different chemicals, including those used for cooling EV batteries, makes it a very flexible solution that enables OEMs to speed new EV developments. Vamac® AEM also can be easily compounded with different types of ingredients, offering manufacturers the flexibility they need to meet the various requirements of the many OEMs now making EVs. It also allows for compounding of very clean compounds; this is very important in, for example, immersion cooled batteries or in fuel cells. 

In addition, we invested time and effort into development of Zytel® polyamide formulations to which Vamac® AEM adheres well during overmolding. This combination of materials, and the strength of the bond between the two, is a great enabler for the design of new EV applications like connectors or other 2K parts.  

PC : For us, partnering with Celanese to distribute Vamac® AEM offers significant benefits for our customers in the e-mobility sector. The synergy between our large portfolio of specialties for the rubber industry, combined with our distribution network and Celanese’s innovative materials ensures that our customers can meet the demanding requirements of electric vehicle (EV) applications. 

Our customers can leverage Vamac® AEM’s exceptional heat resistance and chemical compatibility, crucial for components exposed to the rigorous conditions of EV systems. This adaptability enhances reliability and safety, crucial for maintaining the performance of EV components over time. 

Considering the growing emphasis on sustainability in automotive manufacturing, could you elaborate on VAMAC® new sustainable compounding options, and what potential impacts this may have on the industry's environmental footprint?

CH : We don’t want to give too much away in this forum, but encourage manufacturers who are seeking more sustainable solutions, that still deliver the excellent mechanical and thermal properties of Vamac® AEM, to visit our stand during the DKT. Vamac AEM is naturally halogen-free, an increasingly important criteria for many applications. Plus, we have invested in sustainable solutions for Vamac® AEM in different ways, have plenty of data on these that we can share, and will be pleased to discuss all of this in depth in our meetings there.  

PC : We are proud to support Celanese's commitment to sustainability. The sustainable compounding options being developed for Vamac® AEM are meant to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of automotive manufacturing. As a distributor, it is a part of our role as experts to answer these growing challenges of sustainable sourcing by partnering with companies who are already thinking ahead. This is what we aim to bring to our customer’s projects.

Collaboration is often key to success in the business world. Could you share examples of successful projects between Celanese and Safic-Alcan, and how these collaborations have contributed to your companies' growth and market leadership?

CH : For all of its fantastic properties, we must admit that marketing Vamac® AEM has not always been easy for Safic-Alcan. In past years, demand for this material sometimes outstripped supply.  Safic-Alcan has helped us to manage customers’ demands, and we truly appreciate the Safic-Alcan employees’ cool heads during what sometimes were heated meetings.  

But we come to this DKT with very good news for the industry: Vamac® is back! Our engineers have unlocked new capacity so you can confidently specify this functional solution for seals, gaskets, hoses and other critical applications. We have enough supply to meet current and growing demand and to help new customers who may have always wanted to work with Vamac® AEM. Vamac® is back and available, and this is another great reason to meet with us at the DKT and explore your options. We have started to actively pursue business development for Vamac, and feel confident that we can meet new, incremental demand as a result of these business development activities.  

PC : Vamac® delivers long-term durability and high performance in challenging environments.  
Halogen Free, Flame Retardant (HFFR) compounds exemplify the successful collaboration between Celanese and Safic-Alcan for applications requiring fire safety. 

Safic-Alcan teams have successfully expanded the application areas of Vamac® above automotive and more especially in the wire and cable segment by leveraging synergies between Vamac® dipolymers and our own branded range of specialty additives.

Safic-Alcan is renowned worldwide for its own complementary range of specialties, including curing agents (Vulcofac brand family), plasticizers (Alcanplast brand family) and processing aids (Ofalub brand family). We continuously offer new technical solutions for Vamac® formulations that meet specific needs, such as high or low-temperature specifications or compliance with stringent SH&E regulations, with the help for instance of our tailored activators Vulcofac® ACT-55 and ACT 66 (both o-toluidine-free alternative to DOTG) for Vamac® terpolymers. 

It's exciting to see Safic-Alcan hosting its booth at DKT 2024, together with Celanese as a co-exhibitor. What are the key messages you would like to convey to customers during the event?

CH : Vamac® is back! The material that offers an excellent mix of thermal and mechanical properties is available for our current customers as well as new ones. We are excited to share a space with Safic-Alcan at the DKT and think this makes it even more convenient for attendees to find the right contact. And we think it is important for companies outside of the automotive industry to learn about Vamac® AEM and how it can add value to their components.  

The DKT is always a great show and with the very positive change in the supply situation, plus our new sustainable developments, we think this year’s show will be a real treat. See you there in Hall 9 at stand 125! 

PC : Twenty-four years ago, Safic-Alcan first had its booth at DKT 2000. Since then, we have participated in every edition, providing a valuable meeting point for our customers and suppliers. This year, we are excited to have Celanese join our booth as a co-exhibitor, offering our customers a great opportunity to discuss important current topics such as sustainability or supply directly with Celanese's technical and commercial representatives. We look forward to welcoming all our customers again this year for fruitful and intensive discussions. 

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