Keeping a keen eye on climate protection

As a manufacturing industrial company, HARTING shoulders ecological responsibility. "This is a fundamental part of what we do and is anchored in our corporate philosophy" as Andre Beneke, Director Division Han® at HARTING, outlines. "In developing our products and solutions, climate protection always features as one of our key concerns. Consequently, it made good sense to put down a more sustainable foundation for additional CO2 reductions in the further development of our compact, robust and universally deployable Han® rectangular connector system"

Developments for sustainability

We are constantly driving the development of electronic and electromechanical components forward, especially our connector technologies, in line with customer requirements. Operating in this highly competitive market, we are constantly looking for ways to produce connection technologies that are lighter, more robust and more compact, while still offering high safety and performance levels. As Andre Beneke went on to comment: "At HARTING we are constantly asking ourselves the question as to how can we develop the next generation of such a proven product as the Han® connectors while at the same time meeting our ambitious sustainability targets? Consequently, we have to check every individual aspect during product development and deliver additional user benefits, for example by providing our customers with energy savings when opting for our connectors. For example, this can be achieved in mobility applications through lower product weight, or in energy technology applications thanks to optimised contact resistance. In addition, the recyclability and the CO2 footprint of the connectors are also criteria that we take into account. Here, the choice of materials as well as the amount of inseparable composites are decisive aspects."

Switch to bio-based plastics

To date, HARTING processed plastics made from fossil raw materials in manufacturing the insulating bodies for the Han® connector system. In these cases, it is not possible to close the material cycle in the meaning of a circular economy. Consequently, the production of materials from fossil or mineral sources accounts for a large part of the environmental impact of the respective devices. With the aim of reducing the ecological footprint, switching to bio-based plastics stemming from more sustainable sources makes good common sense.

In technology and product development at HARTING, however, the new materials must nevertheless deliver the same electrical, thermal and mechanical performance, as Benjamin Krüger, Development Expert Plastics Technology, points out. The certifiable, renewable polycarbonate (PC) is made with bio-based and renewable feedstock, while offering the same temperature resistance, mechanical performance, processability and flame retardancy as fossil-based polymers. Christian Cording, Innovation Scientist, adds: "Since it is a 100% substitute product compared to the established fossil oil-based material, all the certifications remain valid and in place for customers." In the search for a suitable bio-polymer, particular attention was paid to ensuring that the material complies with the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification Plus (ISCC+), meaning that significant CO2 reductions are guaranteed. As a result, the production of the polycarbonate granulate based on renewable instead of purely fossil raw materials yields a significant improvement of the CO2 balance by about 70 percent, while less fossil raw materials are used at the same time. Vegetable oil waste and oils from the wood processing industry are finding use for the biobased compounds.


Revolutions are inside jobs

In concluding, Andre Beneke comments: "We look at our technologies across the entire product life cycle, as this is the only way to become an enabler for sustainability and environmental protection and contribute to a clean future. And the principle of avoiding, reducing and offsetting greenhouse gases should – in addition to the cradle-to-cradle design approach – be geared to creating more sustainable products." With the new insulators made of bio-based polycarbonate, HARTING is providing more environmentally compatible options and thereby helping customers to improve their carbon footprint.   

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Andre Beneke
Director Division Han® HARTING Electric