With biodegradable and eco-friendly fibers scoring an edge over synthetic polymers of late, the polyimide fiber market has been observing a renewed traction worldwide. In the last couple of years, polymers and advanced materials industry giants have faced a series of challenges pertaining to the integrity of various polymer products, a factor that has propelled the trend of natural fibers across various industries. Polyimide fiber has been identified as the most widely approved eco-friendly polymer owing to its exceptional characteristics including high decomposition temperature (560 degree Celsius), nonflammable, UV and radiation resistance, and relatively lower fire damage compared to aramid fiber.
On the research front as well, various scientific evaluations of polyimide fiber have made their presence felt, which are likely to contribute toward industrial development. Due to their aromatic structure, polyimide fibers boast of low flammability and brilliant chemical resistance while being extremely light in weight and these factors have made PI fiber market an attractive commercial proposition across the chemical industry.
Polyimide Fiber Market | Applications in the Chemical Industry
Applications in the chemical industry have indeed been cited as one of the chief arenas for the polyimide fiber industry over the past few years. One of the prominent reasons for the same being product’s massive use for filtration purposes in the industry where hot gases are involved. Since PI fibers are highly resistant to chemicals, they can be used as a supreme alternative for conventional filters generally used in chemical business space that are susceptible to high degradation thereby delivering reduced operational efficiency.
In fact, the use of PI fibers eases the performance of extreme processes while also augmenting the chemical plant’s overall productivity. Looking into these aspects, various chemical giants have begun brainstorming for the development of varied types of PI fibers to be used in chemical industries and elsewhere.
In a recent turn of events, one of the major chemical industry players- Evonik, had in late-2019 announced the launch of its new polyimide fiber named P84 HT, given the massive demands from various industries. The newly introduced product has received high acclamation owing to its improved mechanical stability and flexibility at constant high operating temperatures. In lieu of the aforementioned features, P84 HT fibers are typically developed to be used in a wide range of applications right from filter media for high-temperature filtration to thermal insulation and protective clothing.
COVID-19 and Polyamide Fibers
Given that polyimide fibers are massively being used in protective clothing, the recent trend for these is the outbreak of COVID-19 infection spread. The dreaded coronavirus pandemic, which emerged from the Wuhan province of China has to date claimed more than a million lives, leaving various businesses paralyzed. COVID-19 infection is considered to be a novel respiratory infection that is highly communicable, and this calls for use of proper protective equipment like face masks and PPE kits which could help in curbing the spread of this disease. In this regard, N95 masks are being currently deemed to be massively used protective equipment subject to their ability to restrict about 80% of aerosol particles.
Although N95 masks are considered highly effective, researchers are exploring the possibility of developing a membrane that can efficiently filter particles the size of SARS-CoV-2 and could potentially be replaced on an N95 after almost every use. In one such instance, a group of researchers reported on ACS nano that they have designed a membrane that could be attached to the N95 masks and later removed to prevent minuscule of particles to enter the respiratory tract. For this, researchers initially developed a silicon-based, porous template via lithography and chemical etching processes, and placed it over a polyimide film, standing as a barrier for the entrance of ultra-nano particles.
Also, recently a research team from City University, Hong Kong has successfully designed graphene face masks boasting of anti-bacterial efficacy of 80 percent which can only be improved to almost 100% with exposure to sunlight for just 10 minutes. An important thing to note here is that these masks can also be produced via the use of polyimide films. Speaking of which, it was reported that direct writing on carbon-containing polyimide films using a commercial carbon dioxide infrared laser system would produce 3D porous graphene, exhibiting similar graphene-like properties.
On the basis of the aforementioned, it is quite overt that although polyimide fibers or films are not directly used as a protective agent against dreaded COVID-19 infection, they still are highly important to improve the efficiency of PPE kits including face masks.