PLYMOUTH, Mich., April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Lights that reduce energy consumption and improve visibility. A new bio-renewable rubber based on sugarcane feedstock. A bio-exhaust system that uses microbes to eliminate solvent vapors. Participation in a national network of electric vehicle charging stations. Low emission sealing solutions.
These are just a few of the programs and products that Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is pursuing in order to lessen its impact on the environment, help customers offer more efficient vehicles and help build a community coalition focused on making alternate energy a reality. The company, which codified the need for environmental responsibility by a Guiding Principle more than 160 years ago, salutes Earth Day throughout the year by encouraging its employees to explore innovations and processes that not only improve quality but also address its carbon footprint.
"Sustainability is about more than checking a box. It must be founded on the ability to develop new techniques, innovations and knowledge," said Dr. Theodore G. Duclos, president, Freudenberg-NOK. "It is a distillation of the capabilities needed to survive in an evolving business arena. At Freudenberg-NOK, our sustainability is founded upon our Guiding Principles. They drive us to challenge the status quo and create new solutions."
Among many of the environmentally-motivated programs Freudenberg-NOK has adopted:
New lights, new savings
Freudenberg-NOK's Northfield, N.H. facility has set a new benchmark for facility energy efficiency within the company. The plant recently replaced all of its fluorescent lights with new energy- efficient LED lighting. The new lighting will save the facility $40,000.00 per year while doubling the light output, said Plant Manager Gary Plummer. The program has been so successful that it is being rolled out to other facilities across the Freudenberg network. This system also incorporated a computer system that can adjust each individual lighting fixtures output level and shut it down completely when there are no occupants.
Millions of microbes eliminate noxious vapors
Freudenberg's facility in Reichelsheim, Germany has installed a bio-exhaust cleaning facility that relies upon the voracious appetites of microscopic creatures to neutralize and eliminate noxious solvent vapors from the company's metal cleaning processes. The system sends exhaust streams through an active carbon filter until they become the consistency of water. Then the mixture is spread over bark mulch housed in four large aluminum containers. The mulch is heavily populated with microbes that use the exhaust content as a source of energy and carbon, transforming the mixture into compounds that are harmless from a health standpoint.
Energy used to run the system is low, costs are minimal and the bark mulch only needs to be changed every five years. Other company plants in Europe, including the Kufstein facility in Austria, use comparable bio-exhaust systems to eliminate industrial waste and turn it into harmless byproducts.
LESS offers more
Freudenberg-NOK's Low Emission Sealing Solution (LESS) products are being used in a variety of new vehicles to address industry challenges such as better fuel economy, start-stop capabilities, direct fuel injection, use of lighter materials and more robust components that stand up to extended warranty requirements. In fact, Freudenberg-NOK products can be found in virtually every vehicle on the road today.
The company's gas-lubricated mechanical face seal, Levitex™, is nearly friction-free. A cushion of air is created between the slide ring and a counter ring, leading to a 90 percent reduction in friction compared to a conventional crankshaft seal. This cuts CO2 emissions during driving between 0.5 g and 1.0 g of CO2 per kilometer. The company's Energy Saving Seal (ESS™), for engine crankshafts and camshafts, combines the robust sealing interface of a conventional polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) collar with the friction-reducing properties of an elastomer seal. Friction is reduced by 40 percent compared with a conventional PTFE lip.
Bio-renewable rubber improves environmental manufacturing
Freudenberg-NOK's new ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber compound, produced from sugarcane-based feedstock, will help the company improve its materials sustainability while also adding a new environmental edge to its energy efficient net shape single cavity mold process.
The bio-renewable rubber, for which development began in 2012, is made from a polymer which has its beginnings with sugarcane. The sugarcane-produced ethanol is then converted into ethylene, which forms a substantial portion of the base polymer.
Applications for the rubber include seals for coolants, steam, synthetic hydraulic fluids, brake fluids and aerospace hydraulic fluids (phosphate esters). The newly developed material is capable of withstanding temperatures up to 150 C, and the material has outstanding compressive stress force retention.
Freudenberg-NOK's single cavity mold process is also an environmental innovation. The process, which uses compact, custom-engineered one-cavity injection molding machines, improves part quality and reduces engineered waste, scrap and costs. Pioneered at the company's Findlay, Ohio facility, the process is being incorporated into plants throughout Freudenberg-NOK's global network of facilities.
Plugging into the Future
Freudenberg-NOK has joined a coalition of companies across the United States that are determined to build a reliable charging network for electric vehicles. As part of the Workplace Charging Challenge Pledge created by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Freudenberg-NOK will install four new electric vehicle charging stations that will be available to the public to charge their electric vehicles out on the road. The company already operates two electric vehicle charging stations, bringing its total to six.
The Pledge, which employers can join as partners, signals a company's commitment to provide plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging access to employees and guests while supporting the company's commitment to a greener future. As part of the Pledge, the DOE hopes to increase the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging by tenfold in the next five years.
"The Guiding Principles drive innovation, waste reduction, fiscal conservatism, collaboration and long-term thinking – all crucial to corporate sustainability," Duclos concluded. "We are constantly refocusing our efforts on innovations that increase the environmental sustainability of our products, our programs and our processes. We are proud that we have made such strides and can celebrate Earth Day knowing we contribute to such manufacturing and environmental achievements."
About Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies
Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies is the Americas joint venture between Freudenberg and Co. in Germany and NOK Corp. in Japan. Freudenberg-NOK is a leading producer – through its Automotive, Merkel, Process Seals and Simrit sales channels – of advanced sealing technologies for a variety of markets including: aerospace; agriculture; appliance; automotive; construction; diesel engine; energy; food and beverage; heavy industry; and pharmaceutical. Founded in 1989 under the legal name Freudenberg-NOK General Partnership, Freudenberg-NOK is headquartered in Plymouth, Mich. and operates more than 20 facilities across the Americas. For additional information, please visit www.fnst.com.
SOURCE Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies