Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nanoscience Instruments Announces Worldwide Distribution of Easy-to-Use CNT System

Nanoscience Instruments announces worldwide distribution of a new benchtop carbon nanotube synthesis device. The Nanotech Innovations SSP-354 is a low-cost system for producing high-quality, multi-walled carbon nanotubes. The device uses an injection CVD process developed at NASA and is integrated into an instrument small enough to fit in a fume hood. The system can produce research-quality, multi-wall carbon nanotubes within a few hours.

The SSP-354 CNT system was designed with both affordability and ease of use in mind. The user injects Nanotech Innovations' organometallic precursor solution into a two-zone furnace where iron catalyst particles are formed. Once growth is catalyzed, the nanotubes form on the surface of a quartz process tube, which is later removed to collect the material. The nanotubes average 50 nm in diameter and can be anywhere from several micrometers to a few hundred micrometers in length, depending on operating parameters.

Because the innovative design eliminates many of the steps normally required in producing CNTs, the system is ideal for educational environments where students may be trained to both produce and characterize carbon nanotubes. "The SSP-354 CNT system is a great complement to our easy to use AFMs (Atomic Force Microscopes)" says Mark Flowers, director at Nanoscience Instruments. "We can now provide simple and cost-effective nanomaterial fabrication along with our line of characterization tools."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lite-On Mobile Develops Technique for Removal of Split Lines from Plastic Part Surfaces

Plastic is a great material for many purposes. Lite-On Mobile has a wealth of experience in the field, enabling it to offer products that can justifiably be called high-class. Surfaces can be made look and feel totally different to what we are used to when holding a plastic object - ceramic, velvet, shiny, color-changing and, even to the eye of an expert, totally seamless products.

Those are the kind of qualities that give plastic products a high-class look - they are exclusive and expensive looking, but still at an affordable price. And that doesn't go for just mobile phone covers, but for almost anything you can think of.
Kimmo Turunen, Senior Manager from LOM Plastics Innovations explains that Lite-On Mobile has developed a fast and cost-efficient way to remove tooling split lines from the visual surfaces of plastic parts.

* Split line removal is a technique by which the seams in plastic parts are polished away before painting. Plastic parts may sometimes have features like recesses and negative draft areas requiring the mould to be cut into several pieces, and that results in a small witness line on the plastic part. Split line removal is one way of supporting, for example, the seamless phone concept that is so popular today, explains Kimmo Turunen.

Split line removal can be done manually, which is slow and not cost effective. Lite-On Mobile's machinery has been developed both for single part and multi-part flow. Split-line removal can be done for ABS+PC and PC visual parts that are to be painted.

CNC milling is a next generation technology which provides high accuracy and a quality look inexpensively. Material removal is sometimes a necessary production step for a variety of purposes: holes for buttons, camera lenses, screws, etc. With some techniques, the desired forms are difficult or impossible to create in the moulding process, but using CNC milling you can achieve that and even take the design to the next level.

Just about any material can be used, and there are virtually no restrictions on mechanical design. It is possible to achieve sharp hole edges in painted parts, and minimize visible split lines in hole-areas.

These are just some examples of our capabilities in the area of high-class plastics. We listen and discover constantly what the expectations from the world and the customers are. New ideas emerge, more is to come!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Styron Launches Specialized PC, PC/ABS Solutions to Meet the Latest Trends in TV Designs

As a result of the trend towards thinner, trendier TVs, molders and OEMs are faced with an increased demand for thinner TV enclosures with better aesthetics at lower cost. Styron LLC announced the commercial availability of three innovative compounds in Europe that can help molders and OEMs meet these challenges.

XZ 92696.00: high flow PC/ABS compound for applications with high heat requirements

High heat resistant products for TV enclosures traditionally came with compromises in terms of flow, making them less suitable for molders wanting to produce the thin TV housings demanded by today's consumers. With XZ 92696.00, Styron has developed an innovative solution that overcomes the classic compromise between heat and flow.

The innovative PC/ABS compound has a market-leading HDT (Heat Distortion Temperature) value of 94°C at 1.82 MPa, making it an ideal solution for thinner TVs with high heat requirements such as Matrix-lit LED TVs. In addition to this high HDT value, XZ 92696.00 offers a high flow with good mechanical properties. This unique combination makes XZ 92696.00 an excellent choice for molders and OEMs wanting to create thinner TV enclosures for some of the most innovative TV applications.

XZ 92696.00 is UL listed according to UL94 V1 at 1.5mm.

XZ 92699.01: high flow compound based on PC/ABS for thinner TV back covers

The trend towards thinner TVs has also led to new challenges for molders and OEMs, such as the need for high flow products to create thinner back covers for televisions. XZ 92699.01 from Styron is an innovative compound based on PC/ABS with a spiral flow value comparable to that of ignition-resistant polystyrene. Styron's innovative compound combines high flow with high stiffness, making it a great option for molders wanting to produce thinner TV back covers.

Styron's innovative XZ 92699.01 compound offers molders new opportunities to create more cost efficient TV back covers compared to traditional PC/ABS compounds because:

  1. It was specifically developed to be more cost competitive than traditional PC/ABS compounds.
  2. Its high flow allows the compound to be injected at lower temperatures of 245°C instead of 260°C, leading to shorter cycle times and increased efficiency.
  3. As molders can inject XZ 92699.01 at lower temperatures, they could save on energy consumption during the molding process.

In an addition to processing advantages, Styron's new compound also provides molders and OEMs with the additional design freedom needed to create thinner TVs with fashionable designs. XZ 92699.01 allows molders to better replicate the embossing of molds on TV back covers, allowing additional design options and increased aesthetics for TV back covers.

XZ 92699.01 is UL listed according to UL94 V0 at 2mm for black formulations.

XZ 94291.01: high flow, high transparency PC compound for thinner TV front covers

Consumer demand for trendier TVs means that molders and OEMs need additional design freedom and increased aesthetics for TV front covers. Styron has introduced an innovative transparent PC compound with high flow that allows molders to fill thinner TV front covers to help address this need. Using XZ 94291.01 results in fewer weld lines, making it particularly suitable for the 'back-paint' process, where paint is applied to the back of a PC front cover.

"The trend for thinner, trendier TVs brings new requirements for TV enclosures, and we believe Styron's renewed product portfolio is perfectly adapted to meet those requirements," says Tsuyoshi Okii, Global Market Manager Consumer Electronics at Styron. "Our products allow molders to produce thinner TV housings at a lower cost while offering additional design freedom and increased aesthetics."

Acoustic Polymer Foams Give True Theatre Experience

To provide effective sound insulation for optimal acoustics in the oval-shaped Genexis Theatre (Fusionopolis, an R&D complex in Singapore), BASF’s flame-retardant specialty foam Basotect® has been used by the engineers. The Basotect panels, surrounded by black fleece, are fitted behind numerous timber beads spread across the heavily lined and curved theater walls.

Basotect, made from melamine resin, a thermoset polymer, is a good sound absorption material and minimize reverberations occurring inside the theatre. Its characteristic feature is its three-dimensional network structure consisting of slender and thus easily shaped webs. Basotect’s open-cell foam structure makes it lightweight (9g/l), thermally-insulating and sound-absorbing material. This unique structure also provides the much needed flexibility to the foam and can be used at up to 240°C without any deterioration in performance.

Indian southern cities turning to natural gas

According to a top official from the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Bangalore will have CNG fuelling stations by 2012. Meanwhile, in Chennai the gaseous fuel will be available in the next three years thanks to a city gas distribution project, said Gail India Limited’s general manager R. Tiwari.
Indian southern cities turning to natural gas

Chairman of Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) L. Mansingh said that infrastructure to supply compressed natural gas in Bangalore would be in place in two years. Moreover, there is a Petronet LNG’s project, expected to be commissioned by March 2012, to establish a Bangalore-Mangalore-Kochi pipeline. Once built, consumers will have the benefit of piped natural gas delivered in town.

On the other hand, Chennai would be on the CNG map after the City Gas Distribution (CDG) project is implemented in the next two to three years. According to Tiwari, the CDG would reduce the nation’s dependence on petrol by 31 per cent and help save $87 billion of foreign exchange flowing outside the country through oil imports.

During the first phase, the project would be implemented in 17 cities through a Gail subsidiary, with authorization from PNGRB, reported the Indian online newspaper Express. The CGD network would create green corridors for distributing and marketing of CNG as fuel for vehicles (inter city as well as intra city) and piped natural gas for domestic and industrial purposes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ticona's Ultra-High Heat Vectra® LCP Helps JST Corp. Solve Weld-Line, Cracking Issues in SD Connectors

JST Corp., a global manufacturer of interconnection products, has eliminated stress cracks in its injection molded Secure Digital (SD) connector thanks to the superior weld-line strength and higher heat deflection properties found in inherently flame resistant Vectra® liquid crystal polymer (LCP) from Ticona Engineering Polymers.

"With technical assistance from Ticona, JST was able to switch to Vectra S135 and start molding thin-wall parts with excellent process consistency and good surface appearance," said Miguel Padilla, JST Molding Supervisor at JST in Waukegan, Ill. "Now we have the extended operating temperature and flowability that allows us to consistently fill these complex geometries while, at the same time, maintaining tight tolerances and avoiding assembly process issues."

When molding with a 10 percent glass, 30 percent mineral reinforced LCP resin with a distortion temperature under load (DTUL) of 248 degrees Celsius (479 degrees Fahrenheit), JST had been experiencing weld-line issues and occasional cracks that developed during the assembly process. JST needed an engineering thermoplastic with a higher heat deflection temperature (HDT) profile that could withstand the particularly challenging dimensional considerations and withstand lead-free soldering demands of this SC connector application for handhelds such as bar code scanners.

JST turned to Ticona for material and processing technical assistance. During molding trials, Ticona demonstrated that JST could make the successful material switch to Vectra S135 and eliminate intermittent fill and bowing issues its molder was experiencing with SD connector parts molded with the other commercially available LCP.

"Ticona designed Vectra S135 to meet the needs of customers like JST ultra-high heat resistance, thinner walls and faster cycle time," said Edward Hallahan, Technical Marketing Manager Ticona High Performance Polymers. "By switching to Vectra S135, JST also was able to optimize their molding process to reduce cycle times by 4 seconds."

As a member of the high-temperature Vectra S series family, Vectra S135 significantly extends the possible processing window with a melting point of 350 degrees Celsius (662 degrees Fahrenheit). It is a 35 percent glass fiber reinforced LCP with very low outgassing and high stiffness designed for use in demanding connector and surface-mount applications, especially those that must meet Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS). A unique polymer structure allows S135 to achieve a high DTUL, and process stably at temperatures significantly lower than other high-DTUL LCPs. It offers:

  • A DTUL of 335 degrees Celsius (635 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Improved weld-line strength
  • Reduced viscosity, which allows it to fill walls as thin as 0.2 mm (0.008 in)

Vectra LCP is widely used by customers to make eco-friendly connectors, bobbins, switches and relays that meet RoHS and European Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives. In addition, customers and original equipment manufacturers are striving to accelerate the production of green and safe products.


Teijin Sets 2012 as the Target to Launch its Bio-derived PET Fiber

Teijin Fibers Limited, the core company of the Teijin Group's polyester fibers business, announced that it will begin the full-fledged production and marketing of new plant-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fiber as the world's first commercially produced bio-derived PET fiber, in April 2012.
Named ECO CIRCLE PlantFiber, the new product, also available as a textile, will become Teijin Fibers' core biomaterial for applications ranging from apparel, car seats and interiors to personal hygiene products. Teijin Fibers expects to sell 30,000 tons of ECO CIRCLE PlantFiber products in the initial fiscal year ending in March 2013, and 70,000 tons by the third year of business.
ECO CIRCLE PlantFiber is made roughly 30% from biofuels derived from biomass such as sugarcane. Conventional PET typically is made by polymerizing ethylene glycol (EG) and dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) or telephthalic acid (PTA), with EG accounting for roughly 30%. The EG contained in ECO CIRCLE PlantFiber is bio-derived rather than oil-derived, so it helps to conserve fossil resources and lower greenhouse gas emissions. What's more, ECO CIRCLE PlantFiber has the same characteristics and quality of oil-derived PET, so it is suitable for use in many polyester products.
ECO CIRCLE PlantFiber also can be recycled using Teijin Fibers' ECO CIRCLE closed-loop polyester recycling system. Polyester is chemically decomposed at the molecular level by the system and then recycled as new DMT that offers purity and quality comparable to material derived directly from petroleum.
Teijin Fibers develops unique polyester technologies through "hybrid strategies" that variously combine the company's special expertise in biomaterials, recycling, functional materials and manufacturing processes to reduce environmental loads.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Warwick University's New Technique Could Ease Recycling of Most Challenging Christmas Plastic Wrapping

On average we each consume 120 grams of plastic wrapping on Christmas gifts most of which is of a type which almost impossible to recycle. Now researchers at the University of Warwick have devised a new technique which could process 100% of Christmas and other household plastic instead of the tiny fraction that currently actually gets processed - typically only 12% of such waste is truly recycled often and the rest is often put into land fill or simply burnt as fuel.

Some plastic still goes straight to land fill but householders currently spend a great deal of effort separating out the rest of their plastic waste believing it will be recycled yet typically only 12% of "Municipal Plastic Solid Waste" is truly recycled.. It is often simply too time consuming to separate out and clean the various types of plastic of their persistent labels or other problems, as that requires significant laborious human intervention. An additional problem is that often objects are made of more than one plastic that would require different treatments.

However University of Warwick engineers have come up with a simple process that can cope with every piece of plastic waste and can even break some polymers such as polystyrene - back down to its original monomers (styrene in the case of polysterene).

The Warwick researchers have used support from AWM's Science City funding devised a unit which uses pyrolysis (using heat in the absence of oxygen to decompose of materials) in a "fluidized bed" reactor. Tests completed in the last week have shown that the researchers have been able to literally shovel in to such a reactor a wide range of mixed plastics which can then be reduced down to useful products many of which can then be retrieved by simple distillation.

The products the Warwick team have been able to reclaim from the plastic mix include: wax that that can be then used a lubricant; original monomers such as styrene that can be used to make new polystyrene; terephthalic acid which can be reused in PET plastic products, methylmetacrylate that can be used to make acrylic sheets, carbon which can be used as Carbon Black in paint pigments and tires, and even the char left at the end of some of the reactions can be sold to use as activated carbon at a value of at least £400 a ton.

This research could have a significant impact on the budgets of local authorities and produce considerable environmental benefits. The lab scale tests concluded this week have successfully produced distilled liquids and solids that can be taken away by the bucket load for processing into new products. The University of Warwick engineers are now working with the University's technology transfer arm, Warwick Ventures, who expect that their work will be of great interest to local authorities and waste disposal companies who could use the technology to create large scale reactor units at municipal tips which would produce tanker loads of reusable material.

The lead researcher on the project, University of Warwick Engineering Professor Jan Baeyens, said: "We envisage a typical large scale plant having an average capacity of 10,000 tons of plastic waste per year. In a year tankers would take away from each plant over £5 million worth of recycled chemicals and each plant would save £500,000 a year in land fill taxes alone. As the expected energy costs for each large plant would only be in the region of £50,000 a year the system will be commercially very attractive and give a rapid payback on capital and running costs."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

FISIPE Gets Harper's State-of-the-Art Carbon Fiber Processing Line Installed

Harper International has installed a full pilot scale carbon fiber (CF) process line for FISIPE, S.A., one of the leaders in specialty acrylic fibers for technical applications. Additionally, Harper and FISIPE, S.A. have developed a collaborative agreement in which the pilot process line in Lavradio, Portugal is available as an open reference and capabilities demonstration to other select Harper clients.

Harper was chosen as the primary partner for engineering, process equipment, installation supervision and startup for a complete pilot scale CF line rated for production of carbon fibers from 24k to 320k from PAN based precursor. Harper's process equipment solution incorporates their proprietary multi-flow oxidation oven, advanced LT and HT slot furnaces rated for 800°C and 1800°C respectively, surface treatment and waste gas abatement systems, and winders.


"FISIPE partnered with Harper due to their background in carbon fiber process equipment," stated José Miguel Contreiras, Commercial Manager / Board Member, FISIPE, S.A. "Harper offered to us the most credible proposition and we are extremely confident that our collaborative agreement will be mutually beneficial."

During the installation phase, Harper deployed a field team consisting of a supervisor as well as ancillary engineering and manufacturing resources to support erection and start-up activities on site. Harper worked directly with the client's contractors and internal staff for field installation of electrical and mechanical interconnect.

"At Harper, we seek to partner collaboratively with clients as they develop, refine and scale up their process technologies," commented Charles Miller, Jr., President, Harper International. "Our depth of expertise and unique ability to create solutions enables firms like FISIPE to optimize their R&D investments and achieve their goals more swiftly and successfully."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Braskem GP Recycling Campaign Makes São Paulo Greener by Collecting Over 13.5 Tons of Plastic Waste

Proving that small gestures can be transformed into great acts, the Braskem GP Recycling Campaign succeeded in its goal of encouraging São Paulo citizens to dispose of their plastic waste at special collection points.

Conducted last month in five parks in different regions of the city during the three-day-long Brazilian leg of the Formula 1 championship, the campaign collected a total of 13.5 tons of plastic waste.

In return for this positive gesture of citizenship and respect for the environment, the city of São Paulo will receive 500 items of urban furniture, including benches, flower beds and garbage cans. Plásticos Suzuki will be responsible for manufacturing the recycled plastic benches that will be donated by Braskem to the São Paulo Municipal Government on the city's anniversary, on January 25.

A partnership between Braskem, the São Paulo Municipal Government and Plastivida, the campaign also involved five cooperatives, which sorted the material collected and weighed the plastic waste: Cooperativa da Capela do Socorro, Corpore Centro, União de Itaquera, Central do Tietê and Coperviva Bem, each of which responsible for the garbage collected in their respective region. Coopercaps, another cooperative, was responsible for collecting the waste disposed of at the Interlagos Formula 1 track.

Formula 1 GP - The Braskem GP Recycling campaign, featuring Emerson Fittipaldi as spokesperson, received widespread publicity during the Brazilian leg of the Formula 1 championship, during which Braskem and Plásticos Suzuki demonstrated a mini recycling plant. According to João Gomes, Braskem's Marketing Officer, "It was a fun way of showing how items of furniture can be made from recycled plastic."

Twelve tons of plastic waste was collected at the track alone. "The combined results of the Interlagos and the park operations exceeded our expectations. In addition to collecting 43% more plastic waste than we had anticipated, the campaign had an impact on a significant number of people, which pleased us enormously," Gomes concluded.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Modular Polyethylene Tank Stand from Assmann Corporation Offers 100% Chemical Resistance




Assmann Corporation has introduced new modular polyethylene tank stands for use with the FDO (full drain outlet) assembly. These new stands can be installed on any suitable, flat surface and elevate polyethylene tanks 12" from grade for a full drain tank without the need to pour concrete. The stands are 100% chemical resistant and are suitable for all corrosive environments.

Features of this modular tank stand include corrugated sidewalls for maximum support, interlocking dovetail joints for securing modular sections together and optional wind load anchoring points. The lightweight modular sections are easily disassembled and relocated to a different site. A wide range of color choices are also available.

Assmann has tested this stand to over 300,000 lbs. of crush force.

Friday, December 3, 2010

EPRO Awards TEFAL this Year's "Best Recycled Product" for Enjoy Kitchen Tools

EPRO (European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations) has awarded Enjoy Kitchen Tools, manufactured by TEFAL - SAS, France as this year's winner of "Best Recycled Product".

Following the success of the first Best Recycled Product Competition in 2009, earlier this year, EPRO invited the plastics industry across Europe to provide examples of products containing recycled plastics.

The competition aims to promote the cycle of plastics, as well as increase the request for recycled materials. Once again the competition has been a great success, over the two years the competition has lasted, we have seen over 60 entries from 13 countries. The entries were judged by a panel from across Europe, including representatives from EPRO, Plastics Europe and EuPR. The awards were presented at a key plastics industry event - Identiplast 2010, in London.

The top three places were awarded as below:

  1. Enjoy Kitchen Tools, TEFAL SAS - France
  2. eko84®, Retail Shopping Trolley, Keo S.r.l - Italy
  3. FORMaBLOCK, Innovation in low cost construction, FORMaBLOCK - UK

Worth the effort

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes recycled plastics are used as material for new products. Sometimes the material is cheaper and sometimes the recycled material is just superior to an alternative. The competition therefore focused on several criterias: The entries had to contain at least 50 per cent recycled plastics. They also had to be made out of recycled used plastics packaging, entered the market and made sales in since 2008 and of course, it had to be manufactured in Europe.

The results of the this year competition show that global operating and well- known companies such as TEFAL recognize that recycled plastics is a valuable raw material for their products.

"The competition brings home the reality of what can be achieved when we all work together. For the consumer who makes the effort to collect their used packaging for recycling this competition provides some great examples of what can be achieved. For the industry we hope that it creates interests and confidence in the versatility and value of considering used plastics packaging as a material option for products. For all, we hope that more and more, used plastic packaging is seen as a valuable resource and not waste. We thank everyone for supporting the competition and look forward to seeing what's new in 2011" commented Eirik Oland, Head of EPRO Communication.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

India: CNG supply to be extended

The Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Jitin Prasada, recently assured that Indian government is committed to providing all the support to the utilization of natural gas in transportation and that it has already sanctioned 6,335 km of pipeline, while the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) is in the process of authorizing another 5,000 km to connect various parts of the country.
The government plans to cover several cities where pipelines and CNG facilities would be rolled out in the coming years. The gaseous fuel is expected to be available in 86 cities in the next three years, 200 in the next five years, while the goal is to reach 330 cities by 2020. “India will see explosive growth in the use of natural gas driven vehicles in the next years. We are going to more than double the existing pipeline network from 11,000 km,” said PNGRB’s chairman Lalit Mansingh.

Regarding the automotive industry, manufactures are optimistic about growth thanks to the growing network of fuelling stations and pipelines. “We have launched five CNG models in limited markets of Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat. If the volumes of natural gas supplies improve, we would like to reduce the imports of our CNG components and manufacture them here, which would reduce the cost for vehicles,” said Maruti Suzuki’s managing director and CEO, Shinzo Nakanishi, to the local newspaper The Hindu.

During the opening of NGV India 2010, at Bombay Exhibiton Centre, Jitin Prasada also said that CNG-driven two wheelers would soon see the light of day. “This along with CNG driven taxis and three wheelers would create a revolution on our roads to provide affordable, comfortable travel to the middle class, the office workers and factory employees,” he added.

It is worth mentioning that Pune has also committed to clean-burning fuels as its district administration is planning to make it “a pollution-free city,” according to the district supply officer, Pradeep Patil. In turn, Maharashtra Natural Gas Limited (MNGL) will install three more CNG stations in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) area, while they want to set up 20 facilities by March.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Polysulfone Dental Device Remedies Teeth Grinding Problem

For people who are suffering from a tendency to grind their teeth while asleep, Michigan-based Grind Guard Technologies together with injection molder Maple Valley Plastics, has introduced ‘GrindGuardN’ a safe medical device for the mouth. A 3-mm-high central power bar is positioned at the middle of the mouth guard that directs pressure on the upper and lower teeth, and is said to reduce the biting and clenching intensity by up to 60%.

The transparent injection molded 0.2-mm-thick outer shell of this dental device is made of Udel® P-1700 polysulfone (PSU) resin from Solvay Advanced Polymers, which is insert molded with a polycaprolactone (PCL) thermoplastic. To customize the GrindGuardN according to your mouth, it can be placed in a microwaved water for 90-120 seconds at 130°F (54.44°C). The white colored polycaprolactone turns transparent which signifies that it is soft enough to fit easily in synchronization with the front teeth. Polycaprolactone doesn’t deform or melt even at temperature up to 171°F (77.22°C). GrindGuardN, has received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Researchers Train Bacteria to Convert High Percentage of Bio-wastes into Plastic


TU Delft Researcher Jean-Paul Meijnen has 'trained' bacteria to convert all the main sugars in vegetable, fruit and garden waste efficiently into high-quality environmentally friendly products such as bioplastics. There is considerable interest in bioplastics nowadays. The technical problems associated with turning potato peel into sunglasses, or cane sugar into car bumpers, have already been solved. The current methods, however, are not very efficient: only a small percentage of the sugars can be converted into valuable products. By adapting the eating pattern of bacteria and subsequently training them, Meijnen has succeeded in converting sugars into processable materials, so that no bio-waste is wasted.

Basis for bioplastics

The favored raw materials for such processes are biological wastes left over from food production. Lignocellulose, the complex combination of lignin and cellulose present in the stalks and leaves of plants that gives them their rigidity, is such a material. Hydrolysis of lignocellulose breaks down the long sugar chains that form the backbone of this material, releasing the individual sugar molecules. These sugar molecules can be further processed by bacteria and other micro-organisms to form chemicals that can be used as the basis for bioplastics. The fruit of the plant, such as maize, can be consumed as food, while the unused waste such as lignocellulose forms the raw material for bioplastics.

Cutting the price of the process

"Unfortunately, the production of plastics from bio-wastes is still quite an expensive process, because the waste material is not fully utilized," explains Jean-Paul Meijnen. (It should be noted here that we are talking about agricultural bio-wastes in this context, not the garden waste recycled by households.) The pre-treatment of these bio-wastes leads to the production of various types of sugars such as glucose, xylose and arabinose. These three together make up about eighty per cent of the sugars in bio-waste.

The problem is that the bacteria Meijnen was working with, Pseudomonas putida S12, can only digest glucose but not xylose or arabinose. As a result, a quarter of the eighty per cent remains unused. "A logical way of reducing the cost price of bioplastics is thus to 'teach' the bacteria to digest xylose and arabinose too."

Enzymes

The xylose has to be 'prepared' before Pseudomonas putida S12 can digest it. This is done with the aid of certain enzymes. The bacteria are genetically modified by inserting specific DNA fragments in the cell; this enables them to produce enzymes that assist in the conversion of xylose into a molecule that the bacteria can deal with.

Meijnen achieved this by introducing two genes from another bacterium (E. coli) which code for two enzymes that enable xylose to be converted in a two-stage process into a molecule that P. putida S12 can digest.

Evolution

This method did work, but not very efficiently: only twenty per cent of the xylose present was digested. The modified bacteria were therefore 'trained' to digest more xylose. Meijnen did this by subjecting the bacteria to an evolutionary process, successively selecting the bacteria that showed the best performance.

"After three months of this improvement process, the bacteria could quickly digest all the xylose present in the medium. And surprisingly enough, these trained bacteria could also digest arabinose, and were thus capable of dealing with the three principal sugars in bio-wastes." Meijnen also incorporated other genes, from the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus. This procedure also proved effective and efficient from the start.

Blend

Finally, in a separate project Meijnen succeeded in modifying a strain of Pseudomonas putida S12 that had previously been modified to produce para-hydroxybenzoate (pHB), a member of the class of chemicals known as parabens that are widely used as preservatives in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.

Meijnen tested the ability of these bacteria to produce pHB, a biochemical substance, from xylose and from other sources such as glucose and glycerol. He summarized his results as follows: "This strategy also proved successful, allowing us to make biochemical substances such as pHB from glucose, glycerol and xylose. In fact, the use of mixtures of glucose and xylose, or glycerol and xylose, gives better pHB production than the use of unmixed starting materials. This means that giving the bacteria pretreated bio-wastes as starting material stimulates them to make even more pHB."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Scientists Manipulate Plant Metabolism to Produce Potential Precursor to Raw Material for Plastics

In a pioneering step toward achieving industrial-scale green production, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators at Dow AgroSciences report engineering a plant that produces industrially relevant levels of compounds that could potentially be used to make plastics. The research is reported in Plant Physiology.
"We've engineered a new metabolic pathway in plants for producing a kind of fatty acid that could be used as a source of precursors to chemical building blocks for making plastics such as polyethylene," said Brookhaven Biochemist John Shanklin, who led the research. "The raw materials for most precursors currently come from petroleum or coal-derived synthetic gas. Our new way of providing a feedstock sourced from fatty acids in plant seeds would be renewable and sustainable indefinitely. Additional technology to efficiently convert the plant fatty acids into chemical building blocks is needed, but our research shows that high levels of the appropriate feedstock can be made in plants."
The method builds on Shanklin's longstanding interest in fatty acids - the building blocks for plant oils - and the enzymes that control their production. Discovery of the genes that code for the enzymes responsible for so called "unusual" plant oil production encouraged many researchers to explore ways of expressing these genes and producing certain desired oils in various plants.
"There are plants that naturally produce the desired fatty acids, called 'omega-7 fatty acids,' in their seeds - for example, cat's claw vine and milkweed - but their yields and growth characteristics are not suitable for commercial production," Shanklin said. Initial attempts to express the relevant genes in more suitable plant species resulted in much lower levels of the desired oils than are produced in plants from which the genes were isolated. "This suggests that other metabolic modifications might be necessary to increase the accumulation of the desired plant seed oils," Shanklin said.
"To overcome the problem of poor accumulation, we performed a series of systematic metabolic engineering experiments to optimize the accumulation of omega-7 fatty acids in transgenic plants," Shanklin said. For these proof-of-principle experiments, the scientists worked with Arabidopsis, a common laboratory plant.
Enzymes that make the unusual fatty acids are variants of enzymes called "desaturases," which remove specific hydrogen atoms from fatty acid chains to form carbon-carbon double bonds, thus desaturating the fatty acid. First the researchers identified naturally occurring variant desaturases with desired specificities, but they worked poorly when introduced into Arabidopsis. They next engineered a laboratory-derived variant of a natural plant enzyme that worked faster and with greater specificity than the natural enzymes, which increased the accumulation of the desired fatty acid from less than 2 percent to around 14 percent.
Though an improvement, that level was still insufficient for industrial-scale production. The scientists then assessed a number of additional modifications to the plant's metabolic pathways. For example, they "down-regulated" genes that compete for the introduced enzyme's fatty acid substrate. They also introduced desaturases capable of intercepting substrate that had escaped the first desaturase enzyme as it progressed through the oil-accumulation pathway. In many of these experiments they observed more of the desired product accumulating. Having tested various traits individually, the scientists then combined the most promising traits into a single new plant.
The result was an accumulation of the desired omega-7 fatty acid at levels of about 71 percent in the best-engineered line of Arabidopsis. This was much higher than the omega-7 fatty acid levels in milkweed, and equivalent to those seen in cat's claw vine. Growth and development of the engineered Arabidopsis plants was unaffected by the genetic modifications and accumulation of omega-7 fatty acid.
"This proof-of-principle experiment is a successful demonstration of a general strategy for metabolically engineering the sustainable production of omega-7 fatty acids as an industrial feedstock source from plants," Shanklin said.
This general approach - identifying and expressing natural or synthetic enzymes, quantifying incremental improvements resulting from additional genetic/metabolic modifications, and "stacking" of traits - may also be fruitful for improving production of a wide range of other unusual fatty acids in plant seeds.
This research was funded by the DOE Office Science, and by The Dow Chemical Company and Dow AgroSciences.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LCA by Toyota Tsusho & Braskem Concludes that Green Polyethylene can Reduce GHG Emission


Braskem S.A. and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (Toyota Tsusho) have concluded the joint study of life cycle analysis for polyethylene derived from Brazilian sugarcane (Green Polyethylene), and has found that the Green Polyethylene emits less greenhouse gas (GHG) when compared to petroleum-based polyethylene even if it is delivered to the other side of the earth.

The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan conducted the analysis under the collaborative study with the parties using the preliminary eco-efficiency study performed by Fundação Espaço Eco in Brazil (2007/2008), which shows that 1 kilogram of Green Polyethylene emits 1.35 kilograms* of CO2 equivalents of GHG when it is produced in Brazil, shipped to Japan, used by consumer as container and packaging, and then incinerated. Meanwhile, traditional petroleum-based polyethylene emits 4.55 to 5.10 kilograms in its overall life cycle. As a result, the study demonstrates that 70 to 74 percent of GHG can be reduced with the substitution of Green Polyethylene for traditional polyethylene.

For details of the study, Professor Masahiko Hirao and Assistant Professor Yasunori Kikuchi of the university will deliver a presentation at "International Congress on Sustainability Science and Engineering - ICOSSE11", the most renowned environmental congress held in Tucson, AZ, USA, on January 11, 2011.

Earlier this year, Braskem inaugurated the largest industrial-scale plant of bio-based ethylene with an annual production capacity of 200,000 tons to be converted into the same volume of Green Polyethylene. Toyota Tsusho will start distribution of Green Polyethylene in Asian countries including Japan after certain shipping time from Brazil to the countries.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nobel Laureates from Manchester University Give Graphene a Teflon Makeover


Professor Andre Geim, who along with his colleague Professor Kostya Novoselov won the 2010 Nobel Prize for graphene - the world's thinnest material, has now modified it to make fluorographene - a one-molecule-thick material chemically similar to Teflon.

Fluorographene is fully-fluorinated graphene and is basically a two-dimensional version of Teflon, showing similar properties including chemical inertness and thermal stability. The results have been reported in the advanced online issue of the journal Small. The work is a large international effort and involved research groups from China, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia.

The team hopes that fluorographene, which is a flat, crystal version of Teflon and is mechanically as strong as graphene, could be used as a thinner, lighter version of Teflon, but could also be in electronics, such as for new types of LED devices.


Graphene, a one-atom-thick material that demonstrates a huge range of unusual and unique properties, has been at the centre of attention since groundbreaking research carried out at The University of Manchester six years ago. Its potential is almost endless - from ultrafast transistors just one atom thick to sensors that can detect just a single molecule of a toxic gas and even to replace carbon fibers in high performance materials that are used to build aircraft.

Professor Geim and his team have exploited a new perspective on graphene by considering it as a gigantic molecule that, like any other molecule, can be modified in chemical reactions. Teflon is a fully-fluorinated chain of carbon atoms. These long molecules bound together make the polymer material that is used in a variety of applications including non-sticky cooking pans.

To get fluorographene, the Manchester researchers first obtained graphene as individual crystals and then fluorinated it by using atomic fluorine. To demonstrate that it is possible to obtain fluorographene in industrial quantities, the researchers also fluorinated graphene powder and obtained fluorographene paper.

Fluorographene turned out to be a high-quality insulator which does not react with other chemicals and can sustain high temperatures even in air. One of the most intense directions in graphene research has been to open a gap in graphene's electronic spectrum, that is, to make a semiconductor out of metallic graphene. This should allow many applications in electronics. Fluorographene is found to be a wide gap semiconductor and is optically transparent for visible light, unlike graphene that is a semimetal.

Professor Geim said: "Electronic quality of fluorographene has to be improved before speaking about applications in electronics but other applications are there up for grabs."

Rahul Nair, who led this research for the last two years and is a PhD student working with Professor Geim, added: "Properties of fluorographene are remarkably similar to those of Teflon but this is not a plastic. "It is essentially a perfect one-molecule-thick crystal and, similar to its parent, fluorographene is also mechanically strong. This makes a big difference for possible applications.

"We plan to use fluorographene as an ultra-thin tunnel barrier for development of light-emitting devices and diodes. "More mundane uses can be everywhere Teflon is currently used, as an ultra-thin protective coating, or as a filler for composite materials if one needs to retain the mechanical strength of graphene but avoid any electrical conductivity or optical opacity of a composite".

Industrial scale production of fluorographene is not seen as a problem as it would involve following the same steps as mass production of graphene.

The Manchester researchers believe that the next important step is to make proof-of-concept devices and demonstrate various applications of fluorographene.

Professor Geim added: "There is no point in using it just as a substitute for Teflon. The mix of the incredible properties of graphene and Teflon is so inviting that you do not need to stretch your imagination to think of applications for the two-dimensional Teflon. The challenge is to exploit this uniqueness."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First turnkey CNG truck upfitted with vacuum body


Developed in collaboration with Vac-Con, the Freightliner Business Class M2 112V compressed natural gas unit will also be equipped with a CNG-powered auxiliary-mounted engine that powers the truck’s water system. Vac-Con provides combination sewer cleaners to municipal and private markets throughout the world.

Its combination cleaners combine high-pressure water and vacuum systems to effectively clean both sanitary and storm drainage infrastructure. Vac-Con tapped Freightliner Trucks to develop the CNG truck based on its ability to fulfill its unique specs and need for a turnkey chassis solution.

"There’s a tremendous green movement happening now, and our customers are looking to us to provide efficient products with alternative fuel options," said Tom Jody, marketing manager for Vac-Con. "From the beginning, the team at Freightliner Trucks had a genuine interest in this concept, and in its success.

"
The truck will include an Allison 3000RDS transmission for optimum performance and efficiency, which include patented torque converter technology that results in improved startability at the launch of the vehicle, full power shifts, and a better performing engine. "The CNG project was truly a partnership and we look forward to continuing our work with Freightliner to further refine this and other natural gas products," Jody added. Freightliner Trucks is a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thermoplastic Robot Suit Makes Aged Body Movement Easy

For the healthcare segment, especially for aging population, and additionally for industries for disaster control, Bayer MaterialScience has introduced Robot Suit ® HAL® (Hybrid Assistive Limb®) that gives support to the human motor in the form of an exoskeleton. Japan-based CyberDyne developed and manufactured this suit which was displayed at K 2010 recently. The white plastic housing of the suit is based on Bayblend®, a thermoplastic polymer blend from Bayer. Robot Suit® HAL® is strapped on to human limbs and controlled via a computer that receives bioelectric signals from electrodes attached to the user’s skin. On the event of movement, nerve signals reach muscles, moving the muscoskeletal system consequently. Based on the signals obtained, the power unit moves the joints in synchronization with the limbs.

Carbon-Reinforced Ice Hockey Stick

TeXtreme®, a spread tow carbon fabric used to make ultra-lightweight composites, is incorporated in the body of the ice hockey stick from Bauer. TeXtreme® is fabric from Sweden-based carbon reinforcement developer Oxeon that is used to make Bauer’s new Supreme TotalOne composite ice hockey stick. The stick exhibits improved mechanical performance, and is based on two technologies: Oxeon's Tape Weaving Technology which uses tapes instead of yarn; and Tow Spreading Technology which include spreading a tow into a tape and then using these tapes to weave it into a fabric. Besides lightweight advantage, use of TeXtreme® has also improved the stick’s puck handling and pass-reception properties.

Toyota Tsusho Signs a Bio-ethanol Offtake Agreement with Petrobras to Produce Bio-PET

Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) recently concluded a long-term bio-ethanol offtake agreement with Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), Brazilian national oil company.

Brazilian sugarcane ethanol will be used as feedstock in a chemical ethanol project that TTC is deploying with a local partner in Taiwan to produce Bio-PET. TTC agrees to procure sugar cane based bio-ethanol of approximately 1.4 million cubic meters for 10 years from 2012 and the contract is approximately 70 billion yen. This contracted bio-ethanol is supplied to TTC's bio PET business in Taiwan. This agreement will make establish the first global bio-PET integrated supply chain including, procurement of bio-ethanol, production of bio-mono ethylene glycol, tolling business of PET, and marketing of bio-PET.

Petrobras foresees investment in the order of 18 trillion yen in the 2010-2014 business plan. Petrobras has affirmative strategy not only conventional oil and gas projects but also renewable energy including bio-fuel. This long-term offtake agreement is one of the actions to realize their strategy in the bio-fuel business.

This is also first major agreement for Petrobras. And it would establish bio-ethanol supply chain between Brazil and Asia. This agreement will strength partnership with Petrobras. TTC accelerate to expand renewable energy business and continue to strength bio-ethanol supply chain which contributes to lower-carbon society.

Suncor Energy Selects GE's Advanced 1.6 Megawatt Wind Turbines for its Wind Power Project

MONTREAL -- GE has announced an order from Suncor Energy for 55 of GE's advanced 1.6-megawatt wind turbines for one of the largest wind power projects in the province of Alberta, Canada. The Wintering Hills project is part of a new "crop" of wind farms being built across Canada with the help of GE's technical expertise and highly reliable wind turbine technologies.

"Winning this deal with Suncor illustrates how our wind turbine power enhancement technologies are making a difference for our customers' return on investment," said Victor Abate, Vice President-Renewable Energy for GE Power & Water. "Our proven track record in handling the most robust wind locations remains a key factor in our success."

GE's 1.6-megawatt wind turbine makes use of a range of product features - including 82.5-meter blades - to maximize power output while providing superior control flexibility and increased reliability with decreased maintenance requirements. The technology builds on GE's proven experience of its 1.5-megawatt turbine, the workhorse of the global wind energy industry with more than 14,000 units installed.

At peak operation, the Wintering Hills wind farm is expected to generate enough clean electricity to power approximately 35,000 Canadian homes.

The 88-megawatt Wintering Hills project is located near Drumheller, approximately 125 km (78 miles) northeast of Calgary. GE will deliver 55 of its advanced wind turbines to the site beginning in the second quarter of 2011. The project is owned jointly by Suncor (70%) and Teck Resources (30%).

"Alberta is rich in many resources that can be used to produce electricity, including wind energy," said Keith Triginer, GE Energy's newly appointed country executive for Canada. "We are working hand-in-hand with Suncor and others to make wind and other alternative energy sources a larger, more integral part of the Province's overall energy supply."

Demand Increases for Cereplast's Bioplastic Resin Post Italian Ban on Petroleum-Based Plastic Bags

Cereplast has announced a boost in the demand for its bioplastic resin within Europe as a result of Italian legislation banning the sale of plastic bags. European manufacturers are increasingly seeking out plastic alternatives, including bioplastic blown film, to prepare for and comply with the legislation that goes in to effect in January 2011.
Cereplast announced earlier this year that it entered into a multi-million dollar agreement with RI.ME. Masterbatch (RI.ME.), a European supplier of colorized resin used in the manufacturing of plastics. Under the terms of the contract, Cereplast supplies its Compostable 3000 film grade for use in RI.ME.'s masterbatching processes for the production of items such as carry out bags and compostable trash bags. Since September 2010, Cereplast has shipped approximately 200 tons of blown film resin to RI.ME. each month to support customer demand for an alternative to petroleum-based plastics. RI.ME. increased their initial monthly order in November and Cereplast expects shipments will double by the end of the year, reaching approximately 1,000 tons per month by the second quarter of 2011.
"The movement to ban the use of petroleum-based plastic bags across the globe is beginning to have a strong impact on the growth of the bioplastics industry and, thereby, boosting demand for Cereplast resin in Europe," said Frederic Scheer, CEO and Chairman of Cereplast. "With over 60 to 100 million barrels of oil used each year for the manufacturing of plastic bags, European countries are passing legislation aimed at reducing the use of oil in the production process as an effort to preserve and protect the environment."
Scheer continued, "With the opening of our Seymour plant earlier this year, we have increased our manufacturing capacity and efficiency and are confident we can support the growth we anticipate for the remainder of this year and into 2011. Based on our current shipments, we are reiterating our revenue guidance of between $8 to $10 million for the 2010 fiscal year."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Natural gas on the rise

"Commercial vehicles: efficient, flexible, future-proof” was the motto of the IAA event, held in Hanover during the last week of September, at which over 1700 exhibitors presented more than 272 world premieres. The auto show featured a large number of natural gas vans, buses and trucks as the NGVs represent a great potential in the commercial vehicle sector as more and more companies are looking for affordable alternatives.
At the Fiat stand, the focus was on Natural Power models. In addition to the German premiere of the 136-hp Fiat Doblò, the gas variants of the Fiorino and Ducato were also on display. VW focussed on the completely revised Caddy, which utilises the tried and tested natural gas engine from its predecessor, while Opel presented the Combo CNG. Furthermore, Renault Trucks was represented by the "Clean Tech" label, a new brand that combines environmentally-friendly models with alternative drive systems such as natural gas. The Stralis CNG was also one of the vehicles presented by Iveco at IAA.

Volvo Trucks was the talk of this year’s IAA with its Volvo FM. The truck’s 13-liter engine is special in that it can be run on biogas as well as diesel, thus taking advantage of both technologies, according the Swedish OEM. Moreover, efficiency has been increased by 30 to 40 percent compared to previous gas engines.

A world-first was on display at the stand of MBtech, a Mercedes Benz subsidiary. In the "Reporter" concept study a natural gas engine and an electric motor were combined in a plug-in full-hybrid solution. Both engines can operate independently. Of special interest to local authorities was the concept study presented by Hako, who displayed a Fumo fitted with an Iveco natural gas engine. This 3-litre engine produces 100 kW or 136 hp, and meets the EEV exhaust standard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coca-Cola trials LBM for use in delivery vehicles

The soft drinks company is running tests of a 21-tonne Iveco Stralis vehicle run on liquid biomethane, which is produced by Gasrec. The fuel is created by extracting naturally occurring methane from organic waste in landfill sites.

Gasrec’s fuel is now being used by major household names in the UK, including Waitrose (which announced in August 2010 that it will run an initial five home delivery vehicles on LBM); Sainsbury’s (which uses Gasrec’s liquid biomethane for a number of its dual-fuel vehicles); and Tesco which runs 25 home delivery vehicles on the fuel.

Richard Lilleystone, CEO of Gasrec, stated: “Some of the biggest companies in the world are showing a real commitment to reducing CO2. Transport is often the biggest problem for them. But now, there is a real sustainable alternative to diesel for fleet vehicles. The performance of biomethane in vehicles far outstrips that of electricity. We hope that this step will be the beginning of a larger deployment for Coca-Cola Enterprises. It is apparent that growing numbers of like-minded organisations are electing to use biomethane as a fuel of choice which is good news for the environment and for local air quality”.

Liquid biomethane reduces CO2, gives a much higher vehicle performance than electric vehicles and has a similar fuel consumption pattern to diesel. Refueling stations are being provided to CCE’s Enfield depot by Gasrec’s infrastructure partner, Gas Container Services (GCS).

The natural gas produced from biomass in landfill is then converted to liquid biomethane, has the lowest carbon footprint of all the renewable vehicles and is commercially competitive against diesel and petrol. The LBM is then used to fuel dedicated gas-powered or duel-fuel vehicles.

Monday, November 1, 2010

PMMA-Based Racing Car Windshield

In an effort to provide light-weight and reliable protection to cars, Evonik’s PLEXIGLAS® polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is now used to make windshield in RED Motorsport’s Lotus Exige race car. Stone chip resistance in these windshields is claimed to be better than glass-made windshield. PMMA also reduces the weight of the windshield by as much as 40 percent, yet provide rigidity, transparency, acoustic properties and high UV and weathering resistance.

The material is said to have a lower infrared transmission than glass which consequently helps keeping the passenger compartment comfortably cooler. This aside, PMMA is also been used in side and rear windows, roof panels, and more. Lotus Exige body parts made of CFK and ROHACELL® structural foam and plastic charge air ducts were fitted in the car engine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

FKuR Introduces Bioplastics for Film & Injection Molding Applications at K2010

Coinciding with the K 2010, bioplastics manufacturer FKuR Kunststoff GmbH has extended its product range to include more innovative products. The company is presenting them at the show in hall 6, booth B66.

Shrink film applications:

Predominantly based on renewable resources, Bio-Flex® F 4110 can be processed into film on conventional LDPE extruders. The properties required for shrink films can be adjusted by using this grade in combination with other Bio-Flex® F types in a multilayer structure. "Due to the innovative combination of raw materials and multilayer structures, films made from this material show excellent shrink qualities and tightening strength," says Patrick Zimmermann, Director - Sales and Marketing, KKuR. Bio-Flex® F 4110 is a compostable raw material corresponding to EN 13432 with a renewable resource content greater than 60%.

Thermoforming and injection molding needs:

Based on PLA and PBS, Bio-Flex® S 5630 is a compound with a high renewable resource content. The bio raw materials used in this compound are 100% biodegradable. Bio-Flex® S 5630 excels due to the careful balance of elasticity and stiffness. Moreover, products made from Bio-Flex® S5630 feature a high quality and pleasant feel. "Besides the high quality surface finish, considering it is a PLA compound, this material offers an excellent heat distortion temperature of 105°C measured to Vicat A," says Carmen Michels, Director - Technology and Production, FKuR. This grade is particularly suitable for cast film extrusion and subsequent thermoforming, as well as for injection molding and extrusion blow molding.
These compounds, developed in cooperation with Fraunhofer UMSICHT, extend FKuR Kunstoff GmbH's sustainable product portfolio. "With these novel resins we are extending our range of products consistently for use in film applications and for high flow injection moldable materials," explains Edmund Dolfen, MD, FKuR Kunststoff GmbH.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Toho Tenax begins operation of fourth carbon fiber production line in Germany

Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers business, announced that its German subsidiary, Toho Tenax Europe GmbH (TTE), began full-fledged operation of its fourth carbon fiber production line (Line 4) at the Oberbruch plant this month, after first starting up the line in September.

The 1,700-ton-capacity Line 4 was completed in August 2009, but as a result of
declining demand for carbon fiber due to the economic downturn since the fall of 2008,
the line’s originally scheduled startup was postponed as part of adjustments to the
Toho Tenax group’s global production in Japan, Germany and the United States.
With demand increasing this year, particularly for aircraft, sports, leisure and industrial
applications such as wind power generation, Toho Tenax decided to begin operating the
new line to optimize global production.

Toho Tenax expects the carbon fiber sales, which had decreased to about 23,000 tons
in 2009, to increase about 15% annually from this year. Looking ahead, Toho Tenax
intends to further optimize production in Japan, Germany and the United States to meet
growing demand.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

First facility making fire-safe, filament-wound composite concrete pole opens in Australia


The world’s first full scale production facility making breakthrough composite power distribution poles has opened by Dulhunty Power Ltd., in Australia. The composite poles are the first to provide strength, durability and fire resistance by combining the three technologies of filament-winding, high-performance concrete and alkali-resistant (AR) glass reinforcements.

Developed by CMT Worldwide and Langdale Industries, the Eco-Titan™ composite pole is made with lightweight concrete, Owens Corning Cem FIL® AR glass fibers and a vertical winding process that maximizes the performance of the raw materials and includes no metal. The result is:
• Glass fiber reinforcement percentage by weight of 15 percent, which is three times the 5 percent typically achieved in a glass reinforced concrete application
• Total weight that is less than half the weight of a comparable wooden pole while achieving break and deflection test results that are well within current standards
• Non-flammable and impervious to the ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunshine
• Non-corrosive, nonconductive and no electromagnetic interference

A study comparing the carbon footprint of the composite concrete pole with other poles typically used found the composite concrete pole to have the smallest carbon footprint of any of the manufactured poles. It was second only to treated wood at the 50-year expected lifespan of the wooden pole. At the projected 70-year lifespan for the composite concrete pole, the carbon footprint of the composite pole was clearly superior.

According to CMT Worldwide, the global distribution pole market is moving to engineered products for safety, cost and ease of use. The share of market for alternative materials is now approaching 40 percent and expected to continue growing rapidly in the next five to 10 years.

“Eco-Titan™ composite poles are the first truly new product for the power distribution market in 15 years,” says Allen Sells, president of CMT Worldwide. “Our combination of materials and process technology results in an incredibly strong high-performance pole with excellent strength-to-weight qualities and the lowest carbon footprint of any manufactured pole product.”

Owens Corning supported development of the composite concrete pole with technology for the reinforcements and fabrics. The company’s Cem-FIL® AR glass reinforcements provide strength and durability in a wide variety of cement- and mortar-based composite applications including new and restored building facades, industrial flooring and tunnel lining.

“Glass fiber-reinforced concrete poles combine the benefits of composites and concrete,” said Benoît Lorre, business development leader, Cem-FIL® glass fibers. “The result is a strong, lightweight and fire-safe pole that gives the market another way to move to composites and away from wood.”

Dulhunty Power was the first licensee outside North America. Poles from the company’s plant in Moolap, Victoria provide a needed option for utilities facing the threat of bushfire events each summer. Huge fires in the state of Victoria in February 2009 burned poles and downed power lines.

Fire testing was carried out earlier this year at Western Fire Center, Inc., in Kelso, Wash., USA. The two step process subjected poles to accelerated weathering and direct flame. The test report from Western Fire said the composite concrete poles demonstrated performance they deem “Excellent.”

The Eco-Titan™ composite pole was a finalist in the JEC Innovation Awards program for 2010 and was displayed at the JEC show in Paris in April. The technology is now being licensed globally. For more information, visit www.titanpoles.net.

Toyota Does its Bit for the Environment by Using Bio-PET in Vehicle Interiors

Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) has announced it plans to make vehicle liner material and other interior surfaces from a new "Ecological Plastic" 1 that features the world's first use of bio-PET2. Starting with the luggage-compartment liner in the Lexus "CT200h" due at the beginning of 2011, TMC plans to increase both the number of vehicle series featuring the new material, as well as the amount of vehicle-interior area covered by it, and intends to introduce a vehicle model in 2011 in which Ecological Plastic will cover 80 percent of the vehicle interior.
The epoch-making bio-PET-based Ecological Plastic -- developed with Toyota Tsusho Corporation -- is characterized by:
  1. Enhanced performance (heat-resistance, durability performance, shrink resistance) compared to conventional bio-plastics and performance parity with petroleum-based PET,
  2. The potential to approach the cost-per-part performance of petroleum-based plastics through volume production, and
  3. Usability in seats and carpeting and other interior components that require a high level of performance unattainable by hitherto Ecological Plastic.
Ecological Plastic has the benefit of being more carbon neutral than conventional petroleum-based plastics, meaning it can lessen product-life-cycle CO2 emissions; use of it can contribute to a reduction in the use of limited petroleum resources. TMC has been engaged in applying Ecological Plastics to automobiles since 2000, and, in May 2003, became the first in the world to use in a mass-production vehicle a bio-plastic made from polyactic acid, which was introduced in the spare tire cover and floor mats of the Japanese-market "Raum" small car. TMC has since expanded its use of Ecological Plastic, achieving the world's highest level3 of use of bio-plastics in a vehicle by using it to cover 60 percent of the exposed surfaces of interior parts in the "Sai" hybrid sedan launched in December 2009.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Advanced Vertebral Solutions' Spinal Implant Made of Solvay's Zeniva® PEEK Receives FDA Clearance


Advanced Vertebral Solutions (AVS), a supplier of minimally invasive spinal implants and delivery systems, has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for its new Steerable TLIF spinal fusion implant made of Zeniva® polyetheretherketone (PEEK) resin from Solvay Advanced Polymers, LLC. Zeniva® PEEK - part of Solvay's Solviva® line of biomaterials - has a modulus very close to that of bone plus excellent toughness and fatigue resistance.
The EXPRESS IBFD™ TLIF implant, made from 30- and 40-mm-diameter Zeniva® PEEK rod stock, is an implant for interbody fusion of the anterior column of the spine. These implants are hollow so that bone can grow through the device, fusing the adjacent bony surfaces of the vertebrae. AVS has developed a unique "active steering" technology that minimizes instrument exchanges and simplifies the minimally invasive surgical technique, thereby enabling its rapid adoption among spine surgeons.

"Zeniva® PEEK provides the exceptional properties that are required of a high-precision implant in this critical application." said Mike Dugery, President of Advanced Vertebral Solutions.

Zeniva® PEEK is a comparable or better-performing alternative to metals such as titanium for these intervertebral implantable devices. The material offers many important benefits including biocompatibility, chemical inertness, and a modulus of elasticity that is close to that of bone. Based on biocompatibility testing, Zeniva® PEEK demonstrates no evidence of cytotoxicity, sensitization, irritation, or acute systemic toxicity. It also boasts high strength and stiffness and has radiolucent properties which permit x-ray procedures. Advanced Vertebral Solutions uses Zeniva® PEEK rod stock and performs high-precision machining to produce a full range of sizes and configurations.

"We're excited about the commercial adoption of Zeniva® PEEK for this unique spinal fusion implant," said Shawn Shorrock, Global Healthcare Market Manager for Solvay Advanced Polymers. "We've made significant investments and performed all applicable required testing to ensure that our Zeniva® PEEK meets or exceeds the critical regulatory performance standards set by the FDA for this application."

Zeniva® PEEK and the entire line of Solviva® Biomaterials are manufactured in compliance with the relevant aspects of ISO 13485 and under the relevant aspects of current Good Manufacturing Practices. Solvay's biomaterial manufacturing processes are carefully validated and enhanced controls provide product traceability. In addition, all materials are tested in an accredited lab that is ISO 17025 compliant.

Solvay is currently in active product trials with several medical device manufacturers, not only with Zeniva® PEEK, but using the broad range of Solviva® Biomaterials.

In addition to Zeniva® PEEK, Solvay's Solviva® Biomaterials line includes Proniva® self-reinforced polyphenylene (SRP); Veriva® polyphenylsulfone (PPSU); and Eviva® polysulfone (PSU). These sterilizable products are available in resin for injection molding or extrusion.