Thursday, March 31, 2011

Scientists Develop New Nano-cellulose Fibers from Pineapples and Bananas for Automobiles

Scientists in Brazil have developed a more effective way to use fibers from these and other plants in a new generation of automotive plastics that are stronger, lighter, and more eco-friendly than plastics now in use. They described the work, which could lead to stronger, lighter, and more sustainable materials for cars and other products, here today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Study Leader Alcides Leão, Ph.D., said the fibers used to reinforce the new plastics may come from delicate fruits like bananas and pineapples, but they are super strong. Some of these so-called nano-cellulose fibers are almost as stiff as Kevlar, the renowned super-strong material used in armor and bulletproof vests. Unlike Kevlar and other traditional plastics, which are made from petroleum or natural gas, nano-cellulose fibers are completely renewable.
"The properties of these plastics are incredible," Leão said, "They are light, but very strong about 30 per cent lighter and 3 to 4 times stronger. We believe that a lot of car parts, including dashboards, bumpers, side panels, will be made of nano-sized fruit fibers in the future. For one thing, they will help reduce the weight of cars and that will improve fuel economy."
Besides weight reduction, nano-cellulose reinforced plastics have mechanical advantages over conventional automotive plastics, Leão added. These include greater resistance to damage from heat, spilled gasoline, water, and oxygen. With automobile manufacturers already testing nano-cellulose-reinforced plastics, with promising results, he predicted they would be used within two years.
Cellulose is the main material that makes up the wood in trees and other parts of plants. Its ordinary-size fibers have been used for centuries to make paper, extracted from wood that is ground up and processed. In more recent years, scientists have discovered that intensive processing of wood releases ultra-small, or "nano" cellulose fibers, so tiny that 50,000 could fit inside across the width of a single strand of human hair. Like fibers made from glass, carbon, and other materials, nano-cellulose fibers can be added to raw material used to make plastics, producing reinforced plastics that are stronger and more durable.
Leão said that pineapple leaves and stems, rather than wood, may be the most promising source for nano-cellulose. He is with Sao Paulo State University in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Another is curaua, a plant related to pineapple that is cultivated in South America. Other good sources include bananas; coir fibers found in coconut shells; typha, or "cattails"; sisal fibers produced from the agave plant; and fique, another plant related to pineapples.
To prepare the nano-fibers, the scientists insert the leaves and stems of pineapples or other plants into a device similar to a pressure cooker. They then add certain chemicals to the plants and heat the mixture over several cycles, producing a fine material that resembles talcum powder. The process is costly, but it takes just one pound of nano-cellulose to produce 100 pounds of super-strong, lightweight plastic, the scientists said.
"So far, we're focusing on replacing automotive plastics," said Leão. "But in the future, we may be able to replace steel and aluminum automotive parts using these plant-based nanocellulose materials." Similar plastics also show promise for future use in medical applications, such as replacement materials for artificial heart valves, artificial ligaments, and hip joints, Leão and colleagues said.
The scientists acknowledge funding from the government of Brazil, Pematec, Toro Industria and Comercio Ltd., and other private companies.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Medical Microtubes & Profiles Withstand Prolonged Sterilization with PEEK Resin

Thermoplastic tubing and profiles custom extruder International Polymer Engineering (IPE) is now offering small-diameter (0.25-inch) microtubes and profiles made of medical grade KetaSpire® polyetheretherketone (PEEK) resin from Solvay Advanced Polymers, LLC. Microtubes are manufactured on 1-inch extruder that can tolerate high melting temperature (upto 370°C), a PEEK material characteristic, for a prolonged period of time and can withstand more than 1,000 cycles of steam sterilization. IPE found materials made of KetaSpire PEEK better that nylon, polytetrafluorothylene (PTFE), polyurethane and polycarbonate in terms of strength and rigidity. Unfilled KetaSpire KT-820 NT PEEK microtubes (size: 0.029-inch outer dimension by 0.016-inch inner dimension) are used in medical instruments, laproscopic devices, catheters; open and hollow PEEK profiles are also produced. KetaSpire® PEEK Grade KT-851 NT is also used in wire and cable insulation, monofilaments, ultra-thin tubing and films.

Monday, March 21, 2011

PEEK Spindle Nuts Avoid Malfunctioning of Automotive Plastic Pieces During Accident

The BMW Group has approved spindle nuts made from Evonik Industries product VESTAKEEP® polyether ether ketone (PEEK) polymer. The spindle nuts are used in electrical steering column adjustment assemblies. As claimed, the VESTAKEEP® L4000G-based spindle nuts do not break under the severe conditions and thus prevent any plastic pieces from disabling the function of safety-relevant features. With improved ductility, high dimensional stability at different temperatures, chemicals & impact-resistance, VESTAKEEP® PEEK passed the tests by BMW.
VESTAKEEP® spindle nuts are used in the electrical steering column adjustment assemblies that are manufactured by Solingen, Germany-based C. Rob. Hammerstein GmbH & Co. KG. Exceptional material characteristics diversify its future use in mechanical steering column adjustment assemblies, besides automotive and aerospace applications, oil and natural gas sectors, semiconductor, electronics and medical industry and much more.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Automotive Slashes Significant Weight Using PC, PUR

Mazda MX-0 automotive slashed the vehicle's weight to less than 1,000 pounds, using MaterialScience LLC's Baypreg® F polyurethane composite sandwich. Mazda is now one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles with alternative materials technology available today. Mazda designers used lightweight MX-5 Miata for weight reduction and consolidation of the automotive parts. A bonded two-piece monocoque structure is used for the safety cell, subframes, body panels and interior surfaces. MX-0 concept utilizes automotive glazing using Makrolon® polycarbonate to replace use of heavy glass, Baytec® polyurethane for the wheels, and Baydur® STR for structural components. The adoption of lightweight polymers replaces traditional materials such as glass and steel in exterior applications, including window glazing and body panel components. Polycarbonate and polyurethane roof modules that reduce weight and lower the vehicle center of gravity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Breakthrough Technology to Mass Produce Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics

Japan-based Teijin Limited has established a mass production technology for carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), by means of which significant reduction in cycle time can be achieved when it comes to molding automobile cabin frame. Carbon fiber can be mass produced for automobiles and other products using this breakthrough technology. Using the concept, the company has developed a significantly light-weight electric vehicle that features cabin frame made of thermoplastic CFRP.
The difference between this latest technology and the conventional one is that the former include intermediate materials made of thermoplastic resin instead of thermosetting resin for molding-use CFRP. The three new intermediate materials used are: Unidirectional intermediate, Isotropic intermediate, and Long-fiber thermoplastic pellet. Technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts and bonding CFRP with materials such as steel, is also been developed by the company.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teijin establishes mass production technologies for carbon fibre composite

Teijin Ltd has announced that it has established the world’s first mass production technologies for carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP). The company claims it can mould a vehicle cabin frame in under 60 seconds.

Teijin’s new technologies are based on thermoplastic resin instead of conventional thermosetting resin. The company has also developed technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts together and for bonding CFRP with materials such as steel.
Going forward, Teijin, a leading producer of carbon fibre, intends to develop mass production applications for CFRP in cars and other items that require certain levels of structural strength, such as machine tools and industrial robots.

Carbon fibre thermoplastics

By impregnating carbon fibre with thermoplastic resin, Teijin has developed three intermediate materials for the production of CFRP suited for use in mass-production vehicles. The materials can be used selectively depending on the required strength and cost of the part, and they can be made with various thermoplastic resins, including polypropylene ( PP ) and polyamide ( PA ). The materials:
  • unidirectional (UD) intermediate – offering ultra-high strength in a certain direction;
  • isotropic intermediate – offering optimum balance of shape flexibility and multidirectional strength; and
  • long fibre thermoplastic pellets – high-strength pellets incorporating carbon fibre suitable for injection moulding of complex parts.

Faster moulding

Using these new materials, Teijin developed its technology for the press moulding of CFRP within just 60 seconds. The technology also is simpler than conventional methods, the company says.
Teijin reports that conventional CFRP using thermosetting resin requires at least 5 minutes for moulding. Although suitable for manufacture of high-performance vehicles, this technology is not suited for mass production of general-purpose cars, which require moulding times within about 1 minute.
Teijin has also developed technologies for welding thermoplastic CFRP parts together, and for bonding CFRP with materials such as steel.

Concept car

To demonstrate its new technologies, Teijin has developed an electric vehicle (EV) concept car that features a cabin frame made entirely from carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic and weighing only 47 kg (roughly one fifth the weight of a conventional car’s cabin frame).
The Teijin four-seat EV concept car is capable of speeds up to 60 km/hour and has a cruising range of 100 km.
Teijin will use the concept car to introduce its technologies to car makers and parts suppliers, and also to promote joint initiatives to develop lighter vehicles.
Teijin also aims to establish new midstream and downstream business models for its carbon fibre composites business by supplying CFRP parts to the market.

Nextlife™ to Supply FDA Approved Recycled Polypropylene Resin to Preserve® for Consumer Goods

Nextlife™, one of the leading providers of sustainable solutions for the consumer packaged goods industry, and Preserve®, one of the leading sustainable products companies, announce that Nextlife will begin supplying its FDA approved 100% post - consumer recycled (PCR) polypropylene (PP) resin to Preserve for use in select products in the company's line of stylish, eco - friendly personal care, tableware, kitchen and food storage products.
Nextlife produces PCR PP resins from plastic waste supplied by U.S. retailers through a proprietary process of sorting, washing, drying and extruding. The recycled resins can be mixed with virgin food grade resins or used as is to create thermoformed or injection molded products such as cups, plates, cutlery, storage and organization containers and housewares accessories. Nextlife's PCR polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) are FDA approved for food contact applications. The carbon footprint of Nextlife resin is 70 percent less than that of virgin resin.
Ben Anderson, COO of Preserve, "We have chosen to partner with Nextlife and to incorporate their resins into some of our products because it will help us serve those retailers and consumers who are looking for products that are both stylish and lighter on the earth. With Nextlife's FDA approved recycled plastic resins, we can continue to ensure that our products, including cutting boards and colanders, live up to both of those promises."
Ronald Whaley, president and CEO of Nextlife, "Preserve is a great partner for Nextlife to showcase our unique offering of FDA approved PCR PP resin that is comparable to virgin resin in quality, consistency and price. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Preserve that helps to bring recycled plastics to the forefront of consumer product manufacturing."
Nextlife and Preserve were presenedt at the International Housewares Show held recently in Chicago, IL, at McCormick Place. As the official sustainability partner of the International Housewares Association (IHA), Nextlife executives were available at the IHA Going Green display to answer questions related to sustainability solutions and Nextlife sustainable resins. The Going Green display showcased the year's best in class sustainable products and packaging, including Preserve's Everyday Tableware and Preserve Toothbrush (featuring an innovative package called a Mail Back Pack).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

JRC Scrutinizes Baby Bottles Made other than Polycarbonate Plastics

Recently, a ban has entered into force prohibiting the manufacture in the European Union of baby bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA), an organic molecule used to produce polycarbonate plastics. From June 1st, the ban will also cover the placing on the market and import into the EU of baby bottles containing BPA. Meanwhile, the industry is voluntarily withdrawing from the market baby bottles containing BPA and replacing them with safer products.
As part of its activities to support the Commission in the discussion that lead to this ban, the JRC-IHCP launched a large screening study on baby bottles made of materials other than polycarbonate. The scope was to assess the nature of materials, chemicals, and potential release of substances.
Close to 300 baby bottles from most EU countries were analysed. The work included testing for chemical migration and the development of methods for the determination of chemical migrants. The results of this study, which are going to be available later this year, will provide risk managers with trends of evolution of the market and information based on sound experimental data.

About Joint Research Centre

The Joint Research Centre is the scientific and technical arm of the European Commission. It is providing the scientific advice and technical know-how to support a wide range of EU policies. Its status as a Commission service, which guarantees independence from private or national interests, is crucial for pursuing its mission. The JRC has seven scientific institutes, located at five different sites in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with a wide range of laboratories and unique research facilities. Through numerous collaborations, access to many facilities is granted to scientists from partner organisations.