Unifrax LLC, now based in Tonawanda, NY, is a privately owned producer of high-temperature insulation products used for applications in a wide range of major industries. Founded in 1942 to commercialize the ceramic fiber trademarked as Fiberfrax®, Unifrax now manufactures a wide range of products and has 28 manufacturing facilities in 13 countries and sales presence in all of the world’s major industrial regions.
Unifrax produces high-temperature insulating products in more than fifty different forms including bulk fiber, blankets, boards, modules, papers and felts, woven textiles, ropes and braids, coatings and mixes, and accessory products. These products are used in industries that include industrial ceramics, power generation, automotive, fire protection, aerospace, appliances and many others.
Unifrax participates in NY-BEST because its products relate to the battery industry in three distinct ways: thermal management of battery systems, fire protection in battery systems, and battery separators. Batteries are inherently generators of heat and as such require blanket and other insulation systems in order to manage the thermodynamics surrounding the batteries and their recharging systems. As heat sources, batteries can potentially be the cause of fires and can also be impacted by external fires. Thermal isolation is an important element in the design and application of advanced battery systems.
The most significant link to the battery market for Unifrax is the battery separator business. Battery separators, which are membranes that keep anodes and cathodes apart while allowing charge transport, have been made from a wide range of materials including fibers, polymer films, plastics and various naturally occurring substances. Unifrax has made substantial investments in the development and implementation of glass microfiber technology for use in battery separators.
In February 2013, Unifrax acquired Lauscha Fiber International (LFI), which is a German-based worldwide supplier of premium quality fibers for filtration, separation, insulation and reinforcement applications. LFI has manufacturing facilities in Lauscha, Germany as well as in Summerville, South Carolina, Russia, and Bahrain. These facilities produce glass microfiber using two distinct manufacturing processes: rotary and flame attenuation. These processes allow the production of a wide range of fiber diameters for different applications.
The attributes of LFI glass microfiber that make it highly effective for battery separator applications include high tensile strength, superior homogeneity, low metal content, high acid resistance and low shot content. The material is not surface-treated and can be provided in average fiber diameters ranging from 0.25 to 5.0 microns. Computerized process controls ensure fiber consistency that yields highly uniform, cost-efficient battery separation media.
Unifrax is committed to solving high-temperature application problems and providing exceptional value to its customers. It sees the battery industry as an important growth business for the company. It continues to invest in this business area and there is a great deal of activity focused on innovation and developing the next generation of materials for advanced battery technologies.
Joseph A. Fernando, Ph.D., Director, New Products and Business Development commented: "Unifrax continues to invest significantly in product development and new technologies to ensure that we have the products and capabilities needed to consistently meet our customers' requirements for the battery separator applications. Our continued investment in this business supports the future growth of our company and this market."
Unifrax is a leader in the global high temperature fibers market, offering customers high-quality products, service and support for more than 70 years. With its expanding role in the battery business, Unifrax is an important member of the growing list of New York companies contributing to the state’s growing energy storage industry.
For more information of Unifrax and LFI, see: