Applications and Benefits
The largest application for chlorinated alkanes is as a plasticiser in flexible PVC.
Chlorinated alkanes (CAs) have a diverse range of uses, and are a class of versatile chemicals that have been in use for over 50 years, particularly in settings where chemical stability is essential. Their application falls into two main categories; dispersive (e.g. paints) and non-dispersive (e.g. rubber and PVC).
Chlorinated alkanes are essential for fire safety.
In many different, industrial paints, CAs impart fire retardancy. Solvent-based LCCP coatings are widely used across Europe and whilst some alternatives may exist, there are significant compromises on performance and cost-effectiveness. Indeed, one user noted that no solvent-based formulation has produced as good a performance as CA!
Higher chlorine content CAs are used as flame-retardants in a wide range of rubbers and polymer systems, where they are often used in preference, particularly in challenging environments where fire-risk must be controlled (e.g. mines).
Their use as non-volatile, inert fire-retardant plasticisers and modifying resins in adhesive and sealants is also well appreciated, particularly in building and construction environments. Low volatile, higher-chlorine content CA-based sealants are excellent for double and triple-glazed windows; keeping heat in and saving energy!
Finally, CAs are found in cables where they protect the surroundings from the electricity running through the cables. Here, not only do they protect people and buildings from fire but they also remain embedded in the cable polymer and do not leak into the environment.
Chlorinated alkanes are hard-wearing.
CAs give road-marking paints, rubber-based paints for agressive marine and industrial environments and exterior masonry paints much needed physical, chemical and water resistance. CAs are also essential in plastics were they impart flexible characteristics without being lost from the polymer over time. They are also particularly useful in hard-wearing flooring materials.
Chlorinated alkanes are safe to work with.
In metal working fluids, MCCP gives a low viscous material that does not mist and can be used in lower quantities than alternatives. They also have lower odours and do not react with the metals being cut as easily. Due to this, it is easier to remove during degreasing than other materials saving significant energy costs, improving waste quality and minimising the technological challenges that accompany any alternatives. CAs are commonly used in ‘drawing operations’ from single sheets of steel to make items such as fuel tanks, car struts and even kitchen sinks!
As they have been used for many years, their risk management is well characterised meaning that these materials can be safely used.
Chlorinated alkanes are environmentally conscious.
CAs boost the performance of metal working fluids. CAs in metal working/ extreme pressure additives are particularly useful for stainless steels and very hard metals where other additives may not be as effective. In such settings, as they react with the metal at a specific temperature range and have low viscosity, they can also reduce the amount of energy needed. Further, in some metal working environments, there are a limited number of equivalent, safe, suitable alternatives that perform as well as CA.
Due to CAs recyclability, according to a Manchester University study CA additives have lower carbon footprints (up to 44%!) throughout their entire lifecycle than other PVC products. Further, the CAs present can be recycled back into other rubber compounds. >50,000T of MCCP-containing PVC is being recycled each year.
In rubber formulations, MCCP can be easily recycled into other rubber materials to carry over the fire retardancy and plasticising features.
Chlorinated alkanes are economical.
It has also been shown that CAs can reduce material production costs in plastics by 2-5% when used in levels of upto 10% (particularly in very flexible plastics, such as in cables).
When used in metal working fluids, CA usage significantly extends tool life (reducing the overall costs for industry by between 50 and 1000% according to an RPA study for the UK government. Many requests to reformulate are often challenging, come with significant additional substance requirements, are not as effective and are prohibitively expensive for smaller companies (saving research and development costs of around 115.000 Euros per product).
Indeed, according to ILMA (the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association, 2010), CAs are "critical component in extreme-pressure MWFs, which are used in a number of essential manufacturing sectors. ILMA is not aware of any readily-available alternatives that provide the necessary performance characteristics for these fluids.”