Solar Energy and Supply Chain Strength

Solar Pannel

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Clyde Sharpe
President of International Sales for Elasto Proxy

Did you know that 2.5-million Australians now power their homes with solar electricity? According to the Clean Energy Council, Australia is leading the way in solar energy. Five years ago, 20,000 households owned solar power systems. Today, over one-million homes are powered by the sun. Once the domain of green power enthusiasts, solar energy now enjoys mass appeal among cost-conscious consumers Down Under.

Could California be close behind? According to Environment California, the Golden State now generates more energy from solar power than all but five of the world’s countries. With six times as many rooftop systems as the state had six years ago, California is steadily moving towards the Million Solar Rooftops mark at a pace that’s inspiring other U.S. states, such as Colorado.

Solar Power and Industry Partners

Closer to home and here in Canada, solar energy is used mainly for space heating, water heating, and drying crops and lumber. Although Quebec, Ontario, and the prairie provinces receive the most direct sunlight, other parts of the country can also benefit. In the territories, for example, pipeline monitoring stations could use stand-alone photovoltaic (PV) cells instead of diesel fuel to generate electricity.

Both at home and abroad, the solar energy industry needs supply chain partners who deliver products on-time and according to specifications. In Canada, industry partners make systems and components ranging from solar controls to specialized water pumps. PV panels remain the most expensive part of a solar power system, however, and buyers need panels that last to realize a return on investment (ROI).

PV Panels and Rubber Products

Although some solar panels are made of plate glass, tempered glass is significantly stronger. Made by thermal or chemical methods, this so-called safety glass lasts longer and providers greater resistance to breaking. This is especially important in solar power systems because cracked or broken glass may admit water that can damage electrical components such as charge controllers and inverters.

Protecting the plate or tempered glass in a PV panel is not enough, however. The rubber profiles used with solar panels are important, of course, but PV panel manufacturers must also protect sensitive solar lenses or concentrators. Used to concentrate the sun’s rays, these spherical glass parts are protected by rubber gaskets made of durable, reliable, weather-resistant materials.

Application Experience and Technical Expertise

“Clean energy” and “green energy” are buzzwords these days, but that doesn’t mean the alternative energy industry lacks supply chain choices. So whether you’re an experienced solar power provider or a new PV panel manufacturer, it’s important to pick a partner who will listen to your needs and analyze all of your business requirements.

Do you need design assistance or custom-fabricated rubber profiles for PV panels? What about rubber gaskets for solar concentrators? Do you need advice about compound selection instead? If you’re searching for high-quality, low-volume sealing solutions, please comment on this blog entry or connect with me on LinkedIn. Hope to hear from you soon.

“World’s Greatest!” TV Show to Feature Elasto Proxy

Worlds Greatest

Clyde Sharpe
President of Sales – Elasto Proxy

Would you like to see how the world’s greatest custom gaskets are made? Would you like to meet the people who make them? Thanks to How 2 Media, producers of a popular television series called  “World’s Greatest!…”, you’ll soon have that chance. Viewers will also get to go behind-the-scenes at Elasto Proxy, the industrial rubber goods company that was started nearly 25 years ago.

Family-Owned Company and Global Player

Now in its seventh season, “World’s Greatest!…” takes an insightful, informative look at companies, products, and technologies that are considered best-in-class. Episodes air on various cable networks, and are also available on the TV show’s website and YouTube channel. When How 2 Media selected Elasto Proxy for an episode of “World’s Greatest!…”, we welcomed the opportunity.

As Gordon Freeman, the TV show’s executive producer, explains, “Elasto Proxy has become a leader in providing industrial customers with high-value, low-volume rubber and plastic components. Founded as a family-owned company in 1989, Elasto Proxy is  now a global player in the rubber and plastics industry. We think their story will be meaningful as well as educational for viewers.”

TV Production and Rubber Fabrication

Filming of the TV show will happen here at our headquarters in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. The film crew that How2Media sends north from Delray Beach, Florida will capture fast-paced footage of our tube fabrication process, and also interview members of the Elasto Proxy team. On behalf of our close-knit company, I’m looking forward to sharing our application knowledge and design expertise.

As viewers will see, Elasto Proxy designs and custom fabricates many products, including industrial tubing for low compression force sealing and shock absorption. Partners in a variety of industries typically choose soft, bendable tubes made of compounds such as silicone, neoprene, and EPDM. Elasto Proxy can also cut lengths of industrial tube into tube rings to reduce mechanical vibrations.

Seeing and Sealing

Would you like to see how industrial rubber products are made? Would you like to meet the people who design and fabricate the world’s greatest custom gaskets? I hope you’ll watch “World’s Greatest!…” when the episode about Elasto Proxy airs. Until then, we’ll keep you informed as we prepare for filming some of our sealing solutions.

What Oil Spills Teach Us about Industrial Hoses

Ao Prao

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Clyde Sharpe
President of International Sales

Ao Prao was once a clean, pristine, and peaceful place. With its sweeping white sand and deep blue water, this part of Thailand’s Kao Sahmet Island welcomed tourists who enjoyed quiet walks on the beach. Today, Ao Prao is the scene of a massive cleanup effort. Earlier this month, an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 liters of oil (approximately 13,200 to 26,400 gallons) spilled into the nearby sea.

Independent analysts and representatives from PTT Global Chemical, Thailand’s partially state-owned oil company, disagree about the scope of the disaster. The images of slick, black beaches and a rust-red sea are irrefutable, however, and cleanup crews report a heavy smell of oil in the air. Although the effects of the oil spill are limited largely to Ao Prao Beach, fishermen are already reporting smaller catches.

Hose Failure

According to CNN, crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Thailand when a giant, flexible rubber hose burst during a routine transfer operation between a seabed pipeline and an oil tanker. Made by Goodyear, this heavy-duty conduit is replaced normally every two years, but failed after just one. The manufacturer plans to test the failed hose to pinpoint the cause of the catastrophe.

As the oil spill off the coast of Ao Prao proves, the failure of heavy-duty hose or industrial tubing can threaten livelihoods, harm the environment, hurt a company’s reputation, and affect the bottom line. For businesses that don’t deal in petroleum products, the stakes are still high. Whether a liquid comes from the ground, an oven, or an engine, a hose may fail if it’s made from the wrong type of rubber.

Chemical Compatibility

According to the National Association for Hose and Accessories Distribution (NAHAD), chemical compatibility describes the degree to which one material can contact another without an adverse change in properties. In other words, technical buyers need to consider how a liquid will react with the rubber that a hose is made of.

Buyers also need to know that different chemicals react in different ways with different types of hose materials. All rubber is not the same, and reactions may differ with nitrile, Buna, silicone, and EPDM. Diesel fuel and crude oil have different chemical properties, as do the fatty acids that come into contact with food equipment. That’s why suppliers refer to guidebooks that describe these interactions.

Applications and Requirements

Even coffee machines need to use the right type of hose or tubing. To avoid changing the beverage’s taste, buyers may choose platinum-cured hosing. This shows why suppliers need to ask application-related questions. Do you need a rubber hose for purified water or salt water? What happens to this water after it’s transported? Does it matter if the hose imparts a taste or smell?

Hose suppliers also need to ask about application requirements such as hose length, pressure, heat or temperature, and reinforcement materials. For example, high-heat applications often require silicone hoses. If a high-pressure hose requires reinforcements, do you need metal or fabric? If it’s fabric, how many plies do you need?

Lessons Learned

For companies in all industries, hose failure comes with consequences. Even if your business doesn’t deal in diesel fuel or crude oil, it’s important to source the right rubber parts. The oil spill off the coast of Ao Prao, Thailand offers one example. The recent failure of Buna seals provides another. For both buyer and suppliers, there are important lessons to learn.

Thermal Insulation and Acoustic Insulation for Military Vehicles and More

IED attacks, landmines, and mortar fire aren’t the only threats to military assets such as mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles. The big diesel engines that power these armored fighting machines generate large amounts of noise and heat. Military specifications limit the amount of noise exposure to occupants, and high heat from vehicle engines can damage components under the hood and make cab temperatures unbearable.

Acoustic and thermal insulation may not receive the attention of the latest weapons systems, but vehicle designers understand the damage that excessive heat and noise can cause. Along with vibration damping products such as shock absorbers and floor matting, military vehicles like the MRAP may also need impact-resistant insulation that’s shrapnel-proof.

Sound Insulation and Heat Insulation

Protecting personnel and equipment is a complex task, so defense contractors need partners who understand all of their requirements and can even help design new products. Depending upon the application, technical may need sound insulation, heat insulation, or both.

Acoustic insulation is usually made of polyethylene or polyester foams that allow sound waves to bounce off. These lightweight, sound-dampening materials may also include a sound-absorbing barrier. Most acoustic insulation has an open cellular structure that permits the passage of air, a good insulator. Closed cell acoustic foams are used mainly in underwater applications rather than land vehicles.

Thermal insulation is designed to absorb heat from a vehicle’s engine compartment and deflect heat away from the cab. Silicone, a durable synthetic resin, is often used because it resists high temperatures and provides acoustic insulation from high-decibel diesel engines. Self-extinguishing firestocks and custom composite insulation are also available.

Composite Panels and Civilian Applications

Thermal and acoustic insulation can be made of composite materials and formed into application-specific shapes and thicknesses. For example, thermal-proof panels made of ceramic fiber, polyurethane foam, and microcellular or silicone foam can provide heat shielding as high 1200° C in locomotives. By laminating multiple layers of insulating materials together, suppliers can build sandwich-like panels that are suitable for military or civilian applications.

Truckers also appreciate the benefits of high-quality insulation. Whether for long-haul trucking, construction site work, or local runs in a garbage truck, sound insulation is important. As with thermal insulation, sound insulating products can be color-matched to the vehicle. In commercial trucks, for example, a vinyl exterior may be applied to enhance the cab’s appearance.