Germany-based Hoffmann Air Cargo Equipment (ACE) GmbH together with DSM Dyneema have developed a new, third generation lightweight air cargo net that is one of the first worldwide to achieve a total weight of below 8 kilograms (kg) as opposed to polyesters cargo nets which typically weigh between 15-18 kg. Dyneema® fiber, the ultra high strength polyethylene fiber from DSM is the critical enabling component that achieves these weight savings by replacing polyester fiber. Due to its high strength (15 times stronger than steel) and low weight, more than 50% weight reduction can be achieved with no loss in safety or performance, the company claims. In addition, the fiber's chemical, UV and high abrasion resistance, plus its long term durability help extend the life time of the cargo nets significantly, resulting in overall lower costs and reduced environmental impact. The two companies have also been recognized by the recent Hessian Innovation Award for their developments in advancing light-weight air cargo equipment during a collaboration spanning more than five years.
The reduced weight of nets made with Dyneema® can help cut aviation fuel consumption by up to 700 kg per year for each net in use. This translates to a six-fold saving in greenhouse gases from being released, equal to 4.2 tons of CO2, nitrous gases and other harmful emissions. For a typical mid-size cargo airline operating 5,000 nets, this could cut total annual greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20,000 tons, the company says. Hoffmann ACE already has first and second generation air cargo nets made with Dyneema® in regular airline flight service which hold the current world record for the lightest commercial air cargo nets. The development of a new patented light weight metal hook, custom-designed to work only with nets made with Dyneema® will allow further weight savings, bringing total weight below 8 kg. The new third generation net has now completed prototype phase and will be launched commercially in October 2009 at the inter airport 2009 exhibition in Munich.