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WMG announces new partnership with global engineering company

WMG, at the University of Warwick, has announced a new two year research partnership focusing on sustainable high-performance sealing materials.

Researchers at WMG’s Link opens in a new windowInternational Institute for Nanocomposites Manufacturing (IINM), led by Dr Chaoying Wan, will be working with experts at James Walker to develop the next generation of sealing compounds which will be compliant with future per- and poly- fluoroAlkyl substances (PFAS) regulations.

In February 2023, the European Chemicals Agency announced a proposal for the European Economic Area that will effectively lead to a ban on all PFAS materials, due to their persistence in the environment.

This research project will use high quantity techniques to develop and identify novel elastomer compounds that comply with proposed PFAS regulations, for use in critical industrial applications drawing on WMG’s expertise in elastomer and polymer technology.

The new technologies developed will have a high impact on a wide range of industries from transportation, oil/gas, semiconductor to hydrogen storagePicture of a wind turbine and wind turbines.

Conventional high performance sealing compounds rely on PFAS, as these materials are resistant to extremes of temperature and aggressive chemicals. PFAS are essential to the semi-conductor, aerospace, petrochemical, defence and nuclear industries for example, and there are currently no suitable replacement materials available. Alternative sealing materials are urgently needed to substitute PFAS.

Dr Mike Eason, Technical and Quality Director at James Walker commented: "Industrial dependence on PFAS elastomers is a global issue with supply chain impact already seen. I am delighted that we will work with Dr Wan and her team to identify and develop materials which will help industry be compliant with the proposed regulations. This partnership will accelerate James Walker’s development of seal materials for critical industry. WMG has small scale, advanced, mixing capability, with knowhow regarding nanofillers and polymer science that will allow James Walker to rapidly design, manufacture and screen bench-scale test formulations.

“I believe the combination of James Walker’s history and expertise in critical industrial sealing together with WMG’s state of the art capabilities will enable rapid development and commercialisation of materials. James Walker is committed to developing solutions to the PFAS regulations faced by global industry."

Dr Chaoying WanLink opens in a new window, Reader of Functional Polymers and Nanocomposites at WMG, University of Warwick explains: "Collaborating with James Walker to develop alternatives for PFAS seals is an important and exciting opportunity. Our elastomer research facility is supported by High Value Manufacturing Catapult CentreLink opens in a new window (HVMC), equipped with the latest technology, including a rubber process analyser (RPA) with wide temperature range - it is the only one in the UK, and one of only a few in the world with the capability to simulate dynamic elastomer performance at very low temperature.

“This function is extremely useful to compare differences in formulation design for applications such as high pressure or low temperature sealing. I am very much looking forward to working with the James Walker team on the development of new material options for high performance sealing applications and advancing our knowledge of polymer formulation and performance."

Find out more about WMG’s Nanocomposites research here: Nanocomposites (

Wed 03 May 2023, 14:10 | Tags: HVM Catapult Materials Nanocomposites Partnerships Research