Icon Polymer Group, a technology company in engineered polymer products headquartered in Retford, Nottinghamshire, has introduced a new, lighter weight material for aircraft seals that it says will bring major benefits to designers seeking to minimise aircraft weight and fuel consumption.
Offering weight reductions of around 20 percent when compared with standard silicone rubber materials, Icon Polymer says its news ICONlite low specific gravity silicone nonetheless maintains the unique mechanical and chemical properties that make silicone rubber so well suited to aerodynamic aircraft seals.
Based on a proprietary technology through which hybrid polymers can be produced to exhibit a wide range of performance attributes, Icon Polymer says ICONlite represents a major step forward in low weight seals. It is even said to allow variable densities to be tuned to the requirements of the platform.
Icon Polymer says its own research estimates a total fuel saving in the region of US$5 million (approx. £3.2 million) in one application, based on the use of ICONlite seals creating a 240kg weight saving on an aircraft flying for a total of 700,000 hours, with a cost per gallon of approx. US$3.09 (approx. £2.00) for kerosene type jet fuel.
Neil Wilkinson, Global Buisness Director at Icon Polymer Group, explained: “The unique ‘backbone’ of silicone rubber allows it to perform consistently over a wide temperature range, with excellent environmental resistance, which has over the years made it the material of choice for specifiers of seals.
“However, mindful of the ever-increasing drive to reduce aircraft weight and therefore fuel consumption, our team of engineers have applied their extensive materials knowledge to create a lighter weight solution which does not compromise on performance.
“The potential savings are massive and we are already in conversation with several leading global manufacturers and tier one suppliers about the integration of ICONlite products into their designs.”