Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ashland Resins found in Award-winning Composite Applications

Resins from Ashland Performance Materials, a commercial unit of Ashland Inc., were used in the majority of projects recognized with Awards for Composite Excellence (ACE) from the American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA). Ashland resins were used in six out of the 10 ACMA awards presented during the organization's recent annual meeting.

Harbor Technologies, LLC won the Infinite Possibilities award with their Hybrid Composite Bridge Beam entry using Ashland's epoxy vinyl ester resin. The Innovations in Green Composites Technology award was presented to Bedford Reinforced Plastics, which used Ashland's Envirez® resin, industry's first commercially available unsaturated polyester resin containing renewable materials, to create a double-walled hybrid composite panel used to replace drywall in some construction applications.

The Most Creative Application award was presented to the AEWC Advanced Structures & Composites Center at the University of Maine, for their Bridge-in-a-Backpack* application featuring Ashland's Derakane® 8084 resin. Ashland's Hetron® epoxy vinyl ester resin was used by Ershigs Inc. to capture the Technical Innovation for Corrosion Applications award for their work in a carbon capture and sequestration application. The Pinnacle Award and Best of Show in cast polymer applications went to Monroe Industries Robal Glass* application of Ashland's Envirez resin technology in a tub and shower application.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

MIT Scientists Transform Polyethylene into a Heat-conducting Material

Most polymers - materials made of long, chain-like molecules - are very good insulators for both heat and electricity. But an MIT team has found a way to transform the most widely used polymer, polyethylene, into a material that conducts heat just as well as most metals, yet remains an electrical insulator.
The new process causes the polymer to conduct heat very efficiently in just one direction, unlike metals, which conduct equally well in all directions. This may make the new material especially useful for applications where it is important to draw heat away from an object, such as a computer processor chip. The work is described in a paper published this month in Nature Nanotechnology.

The key to the transformation was getting all the polymer molecules to line up the same way, rather than forming a chaotic tangled mass, as they normally do. The team did that by slowly drawing a polyethylene fiber out of a solution, using the finely controllable cantilever of an atomic force microscope, which they also used to measure the properties of the resulting fiber.

This fiber was about 300 times more thermally conductive than normal polyethylene along the direction of the individual fibers, says the team's leader, Gang Chen, the Carl Richard Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering and director of MIT's Pappalardo Micro and Nano Engineering Laboratories.

The high thermal conductivity could make such fibers useful for dissipating heat in many applications where metals are now used, such as solar hot water collectors, heat exchangers and electronics.

Chen explains that most attempts to create polymers with improved thermal conductivity have focused on adding in other materials, such as carbon nanotubes, but these have achieved only modest increases in conductivity because the interfaces between the two kinds of material tend to add thermal resistance. "The interfaces actually scatter heat, so you don't get much improvement," Chen says. But using this new method, the conductivity was enhanced so much that it was actually better than that of about half of all pure metals, including iron and platinum.

Producing the new fibers, in which the polymer molecules are all aligned instead of jumbled, required a two-stage process, explains graduate student Sheng Shen, the lead author of the paper. The polymer is initially heated and drawn out, then heated again to stretch it further. "Once it solidifies at room temperature, you can't do any large deformation," Shen says, "so we heat it up twice."

Even greater gains are likely to be possible as the technique is improved, says Chen, noting that the results achieved so far already represent the highest thermal conductivity ever seen in any polymer material. Already, the degree of conductivity they produce, if such fibers could be made in larger quantity, could provide a cheaper alternative to metals used for heat transfer in many applications, especially ones where the directional characteristics would come in handy, such as heat-exchanger fins (like the coils on the back of a refrigerator or in an air conditioner), cell-phone casings or the plastic packaging for computer chips. Other applications might be devised that take advantage of the material's unusual combination of thermal conductivity with light weight, chemical stability and electrical insulation.

So far, the team has just produced individual fibers in a laboratory setting, Chen says, but "we're hoping that down the road, we can scale up to a macro scale," producing whole sheets of material with the same properties.

Friday, March 19, 2010

PLA-based eyeglass frames

A collaborative industrial project between the Japanese companies Teijin Limited, Teijin Chemicals and also Tanaka Foresight Inc. has allowed to develop eyeglass frame entirely made from plant-based, heat resistant poly(acid lactic) (PLA). The chosen material is a Biofront™ grade from Teijin Limited, that is said to be the world's first mass-produced stereocomplex PLA, made with plant-based Poly-L-lacticacid polymer (conventional poly(lacticacid acid)) and their enantiomer poly-D-lacticacid polymer. This highly stable stereocomplex structure, based on Teijin's polymer technology, allows to obtain a melting point of 210° C, that is over 40°C higher than that of poly-L-lacticacid polymer, putting Biofront™ heat resistance at par with oil-based poly(butylene terephthalate) (PBT). Biofront™ PLA exhibits high resistance to bleaching and antibacterial properties that suits for eyeglass applications.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Automotive floor mat made from PLA fiber

The remodeled third-generation of Prius vehicle from the Japanese automaker Toyota Tsusho Corporation includes a special floor mat made from poly(lactic acid) (PLA) fiber i.e. an Ingeo™ material produced by the American bio-based plastic specialist NatureWorks. Known as the world’s most eco-conscious car, Toyota Prius features world leading fuel consumption (38km/L), a solar powered ventilation system, and environmentally friendly plant-derived plastics for seat cushion foam, cowl side trim, inner and outer scuff plates, and deck trim cover. Now, the new Prius adds to these bio based materials by offering optional floor mats (deluxe type) using NatureWorks’ advanced Ingeo fiber system. As a result Ingeo fiber allows to reduce the fossil fuel use by 65% and cuts by 90% the CO2 emission when compared to the petrochemical based polyamide (PA) used in conventional floor mats.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Global market for CNT

The value of the global carbon nanotubes market was an estimated $104m (€76.1m) in 2009, and is expected to increase to $167m (€122.2m) by the end of 2010, according to BCC Research. The US group is forecasting a compound annual growth rate of 58.9% for the market, which would make it worth nearly $1.1bn (€0.8bn) in 2015.
The market for multi-walled carbon nanotubes, used in polymers, accounts for nearly all of the market, and is expected to reach $161m (€117.9m) in 2010. By 2015, this figure will have risen to $866m (€633.8m), BCC believes.

But the single-walled market is expected to take off in the same period, rising from $250,000 (€182,965) in 2010 to $125m (€91.5m) in 2015. The few-walled segment is valued at an estimated $6m (€4.4m) in 2010, and will reach nearly $63m (€46.1m) in 2015.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Soy-based foam for mattresses

One of the largest mattress manufacturers in the United States i.e. Denver Mattress has announced that it uses between 2.54cm (one inch) and 7.62cm (three inches) of soybean oil- based foam for the quilted top layer of nearly all of its mattresses. This soybean oil based  foam namely BioFlex™ Hybrid foam is produced by Flexible foam Products, Inc. by using a patented process called EnviroFlex technology and Cargill BiOH® soy-based polyol that replace a portion of the petroleum products used in BioFlex™ Hybrid Foam.According to Flexible Foam products, Inc., BioFlex boasts equal, if not better, performance in several standard measurements for furniture-grade foams, including support factor ratio; tensile, tear and elongation strength; height loss; and indentation force deflection, compared with petrochemical-based foams.

Friday, March 5, 2010

CNG-fuelled Bus Completes 322,000 Km Altoona Test – All Clear

A CNG fueled cutaway bus recently completed the demanding Altoona Bus Test without any unscheduled maintenance or repairs to the CNG fuel system. Built on the Ford E-450 chassis, the cutaway bus is 25′ in length and has a passenger capacity of twenty one. The proprietary compressed natural gas fuel system was designed and installed in California by Creative Bus Sales, a company that specializes in CNG bus conversions.

The 200,000 mile (322,000 km) test began on June 10, 2009 and was completed on August 31, 2009. Overall the bus experienced very few mechanical problems, none of which were at all related to the CNG fuel system.

Testing took place at the prestigious Pennsylvania Transportation institute at Penn State. Penn State’s Vehicle Systems & Safety Program is responsible for the operation of the Federal Transit Administration’s new model bus testing program. Creative Bus Sales’ CNG fuel system was designed to meet NFPA 52 standards and complies with the requirements set forth in California Title 13. It is designed for installation on the Ford E-450 chassis, and uses components from Luxfer Cylinders, Swagelok, and BAF Technologies.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Liquid urethane polymers from Bayer MaterialScience LLC improve performance of epoxy resins

Options for flexiblizing epoxy resins have traditionally been limited. The addition of plasticizers, for example, has generally had an adverse effect on the epoxy's mechanical properties. Now, however, there is another viable alternative: liquid urethane polymers, such as Desmocap® urethane polymer from Bayer MaterialScience LLC.

Desmocap urethane polymers can improve and/or expand the flexibility, elongation, impact resistance, tear resistance, cure rate and adhesion of epoxy resins. Epoxies incorporating urethane liquid polymers are well suited to a variety of uses, including caulks, coatings, membranes and sealants, and can also be utilized to encapsulate electrical parts.

Thermoplastic bee hives

The British company Omlet, that has made its name with its innovative plastics chicken coops namely Eglu has also just developed innovative line of plastic bee hives. These new products, namely Beehaus™, specially designed for instance for urban people who want to harvest their honey, are made from a medium density polyethylene (MDPE) using a rotational molding process. According to the firm, Beehaus™ beekeeping units offer several advantages compared with conventional wooden bee hives: they are easy to clean and offer better temperature control as well as enhanced durability. They cost £465 i.e. $790.