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“High Energy Polyester shows full equivalence with nylon performance”

Expert Interview

Home Future of Conveying “High Energy Polyester shows full equivalence with nylon performance”

“High Energy Polyester shows full equivalence with nylon performance”

HEP is a new material being used to replace nylon yarns in conveyor belt and industrial hose fabrics. Don Brown, Material Development R&D, and Marius Dreier, Material Development, explain why HEP solutions are sustainable and how customers can benefit.

Marius Dreier (left) and Don Brown

Question 1

What does HEP mean?


M. Dreier: HEP is an acronym created by Continental that stands for High Energy Polyester. Although HEP is derived from polyester, it is not like standard polyester yarn. We wanted a polyester that is “nylon-like” and shows full equivalence with nylon performance in our conveyor belts.


Question 2

How long has Continental been using this polyester?


D. Brown: It is a rather new innovation. We collaborated with several of our polyester yarn suppliers to develop the material. At the end of 2019, I began working with their R&D and production teams to kick off the project, and after many process trials HEP yarn was created. It had to go through a rigorous approval process that included new fabric specification designs, lab testing, belt production and field validation. These activities started in early 2020, with full belt performance approvals commencing in 2021.


Question 3

For which belt specifications are HEP solutions suited?


M. Dreier: HEP is being used to replace nylon yarns in both the warp and weft of conveyor belt fabrics. Any construction that uses nylon yarn is a candidate for a HEP solution. The portfolio is expanding globally, and we will implement new solutions wherever possible.


Question 4

How does HEP benefit customers compared with conventional nylon?


M. Dreier: Nylon yarn continues to escalate in price with double-digit increases. There is ten times more global capacity for polyester, meaning both price and supply are more stable than for conventional nylon. Increased supply capacity results in sourcing improvements. Customers benefit from more stable pricing and ultimately a more stable product supply, while the performance of the material is equal to nylon.


Question 5

HEP is also a “greener” solution than nylon. Can you explain why?


D. Brown: The advantage in terms of sustainability essentially lies in the fact that less energy is required to produce HEP. The production process for polyester has a lower carbon footprint than the production process for nylon. This is because of the polymerization reactions and monomers that are used.


Question 6

Can you share some figures that demonstrate the higher level of sustainability?


D. Brown: 17 percent less energy is needed to create one kilogram of HEP compared with one kilogram of nylon. This leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions generated during the production of the yarn and a lower global warming potential – a metric that allows for comparisons of the effects of different gases on global warming. For nylon, the GWP is 9.91; for HEP it is 8.25. To make the solution even more sustainable, we are considering a recycled version of HEP that is similar to other r-PET products being developed by global industrial yarn suppliers.


Question 7

What has been your experience with HEP so far? Does the material perform as expected?


M. Dreier: High Energy Polyester is specially formulated to deliver all the performance features of nylon, including high strength. To date, all customer feedback validates the performance of our HEP solutions, whether it is for wood products, industry or aggregate and mining applications. This also includes a full nylon/nylon conversion to HEP for heavy mining applications.


Question 8

What is next on the development roadmap?


D. Brown: Continental has launched the production of passenger car tires using a carcass produced from recycled polyester (r-PET). Phase 2 for Conveying Solutions and Industrial Hose is the development and implementation of recycled HEP (r-HEP) to further lower the carbon footprint.

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