Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Victrex Assures Supply of VICTREX PEEK® to Airplane Manufacturers to Uplift Aircraft Production Levels

Victrex Polymer Solutions, one of the leaders in high performance polyaryletherketones, has reaffirmed its security of supply in anticipation of increased demand as commercial airplane manufacturers plan to boost production rates to record levels.
Victrex issued a Security of Supply statement outlining its ability to provide VICTREX PEEK polymer at a time when many other polymer manufacturers are struggling to keep up with customer demand. Victrex has a proven track-record of investing in capacity ahead of demand, creating a stable supply position for its global customers across a wide and growing range of applications in the aerospace, automotive, industrial, oil and gas, alternative energy and electronics sectors.

Amphenol PCD, a subsidiary of Amphenol Corporation, one of the world's largest manufacturers of interconnect products, is a direct supplier on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and a long-time Victrex customer. Amphenol PCD produces high performance wiring, cable, and hydraulic tubing clamps based on VICTREX PEEK that replace traditional metal P-clamps and Saddle clamps. Amphenol PCD chose VICTREX PEEK because of its superior strength and ability to reduce overall weight. As Amphenol attests, security of supply was also a very important consideration.

"In the aerospace industry, long-term stability and security of supply in our supply chain is vital," says Eric Rushbrook, General Manager, Amphenol PCD. "We therefore look very closely at all of our key suppliers' production capacity and quality control measures to ensure product availability and consistency and to enable us to meet our customers' demands both now and in the future. Victrex provided us the further assurance we need from one of our key suppliers due to its vertically integrated supply chain."
According to Tim Cooper, Managing Director at Victrex Polymer Solutions, "Offering a consistent, reliable supply of high quality VICTREX PEEK polymer ready for shipment to meet our existing and new customers' needs is an integral part of our strategy and focus. Our customers today, and in the future, can be confident in our ability to meet their needs for PEEK polymer on time and in full."

In order to improve fuel efficiency, airplane manufacturers are making extensive use of injection molded thermoplastics as well as composites, films, and pipes in next generation designs including a large number of lightweight structural components made with VICTREX PEEK polymer. In order to meet FAA safety requirements, qualified materials must often be certified to aircraft OEM specifications, their tier supplier specifications, and/or military standards (e.g. MIL-P-46183 for PEEK).
Because FAA certifications must be verified on every batch/lot, Victrex holds strategic stock of specified VICTREX PEEK grades based on forecasted demand. Additionally, the Company offers delivery for standard products with a maximum lead time of 5-7 days, and in many cases can deliver within three days.

Friday, February 24, 2012

ETH Zurich Researchers Create 2D Polymers that Form a "Molecular Carpet" on a Nanometre Scale

Scientists under the direction of ETH Zurich have created a minor sensation in synthetic chemistry. They succeeded for the first time in producing regularly ordered planar polymers that form a kind of "molecular carpet" on a nanometre scale.
At ETH Zurich in 1920, the Chemist Hermann Staudinger postulated the existence of macromolecules consisting of many identical modules strung together like a chain. For this he was initially rewarded with mockery and incomprehension in professional circles. But Staudinger was to be proved right: today the macromolecules described as polymers are known as plastics, and by 1950 one kilogram of them was already being produced per capita worldwide.
Today, more than ninety years after Staudinger's discovery - for which the chemist was honoured with the Nobel Prize in 1953 - about 150 million tons of plastics are manufactured every year. A gigantic industry developed, without whose products our daily life is no longer imaginable.
A research group led by Professor A. Dieter Schlüter and Senior Lecturer Junji Sakamoto at the Polymers Institute of ETH Zurich has now succeeded in making a decisive breakthrough in the synthetic chemistry of polymers: they have created two-dimensional polymers for the first time.

Intensive Discussions Led to Success
Polymers are formed when small single molecules known as monomers join together by chemical reactions like the links of a chain to form high molecular weight substances. Since qualifying as a lecturer, Schlüter was already occupied by the question of whether polymers can only polymerise linearly. Although graphene counts as a natural representative of a two-dimensional polymer - the carbon atoms in graphene form a honeycomb-like pattern through triple bonds - it cannot be synthesised in a controlled way.
Nevertheless, he said, if it is possible to produce giant molecules "one-dimensionally" from monomers, or for example molecules in pharmacology that are so small that they are practically "zero-dimensional", why then should it not be possible to develop a synthetic chemistry that generates two-dimensional molecules? When Schlüter and Sakamoto met at ETH Zurich a few years ago, they discussed this topic intensively and together they looked for answers.
The crux of the matter was to create oligofunctional monomers in such a way that they join together purely two-dimensionally instead of linearly or even three-dimensionally. Polymers of this kind must have three or more covalent bonds between the regularly repeating units. The scientists had to find out which bonding chemistry and environment was most suitable for producing this kind of "molecular carpet".
After intensive analyses of previous studies and the possible ways of generating two-dimensional polymers synthetically, they considered the synthesis at a water-air interface or in a single crystal, i.e. a crystal with a homogeneous layer lattice. The researchers decided in favour of the second alternative: the doctoral student Patrick Kissel successfully used this to crystallise special monomers which he had prepared into layered hexagonal single crystals. For this he generated photochemically sensitive molecules for which such an arrangement is energetically optimum. When irradiated with light with a wavelength of 470 nanometres, the monomers polymerised in all the layers.

Sheet-like Polymers with Regular Structures
After this the researchers boiled the crystal in a suitable solvent to separate the individual layers from one another. Each layer represents a two-dimensional polymer. The fact that the team really had succeeded in producing sheet-like polymers with regular structures was shown by special studies in an electron microscope carried out by Empa researcher Rolf Erni and Marta Rossell from ETH Zurich at the Empa (Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology).
The polymerization method that was developed is so gentle that all the monomer's functional groups are also preserved at defined positions in the polymer. The researchers have complete structural control over the monomers in a way that would never be possible with graphene, for example, because that process would need to be carried out at enormously high temperatures. Sakamoto says, "Our synthetically manufactured polymers are not conductive like graphene, but on the other hand we would be able to use them for example to filter the tiniest molecules."

In fact there are small defined holes with a diameter in the sub-nanometre range in the regularly arranged polymers. Moreover, tiny hexagons in the polymers, formed by benzene rings with three ester groups, can be removed by a simple hydrolytic process. This would form a "sieve" with an ordered structure suitable for the selective filtration of molecules.

Unresearched Physics
However, before the researchers can think about practical applications, the task now is to characterise the material's properties. According to Schlüter, this is mainly a job for the physicists. One of the exciting questions in this respect will be how a two-dimensional polymer behaves compared to a linear polymer, for which a good physical and technological understanding is available. Schlüter assumes that two-dimensional polymers could have a different physics and will therefore also find different applications.
He mentions the property of "elasticity" as an example: intertwined linear polymers enable a stretched rubber band to snap back as soon as it is released. But because flat sheets can hardly entangle together, this would probably not work with planar polymers. However, the researchers must first of all find a way to produce larger amounts and even larger sheet sizes. The size of the crystals is currently only 50 micrometres. Sakamoto stresses that "those, however, are already enormous degrees of polymerization at a molecular level."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ClikTech Replaces Metal with Solvay's Radel® PPSU to Develop Novel Litening Rods™ for Medical Use

ClikTech Inc., Buffalo Grove, Ill., one of the leading manufacturers of dental sensor and x-ray film holders, has launched the industry's first thermoplastic rod for dental x-ray holder systems. The company's new Litening Rods™ , made of Radel® polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) resin from Solvay Specialty Polymers USA, LLC, replace metal rods which are labor intensive and more costly. The new product made of Radel® PPSU is light, autoclavable, reusable, and less costly. ClikTech will make the product introduction at the Chicago Dental Society's 2012 Mid-Winter Meeting Feb. 23-25 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Metal rods have been used for decades in dental offices. Although effective, they are costly and prone to breakage, according to Thomas Gillen, president of ClikTech Inc. Metal rods require labor-intensive manufacturing steps including steel forming, bending, and pin insertion. "We have reached a time when we can combine both new and old technologies to produce the best available products at the most reasonable cost to the dental profession," explained Gillen. "These innovative rods serve as the bridge to make the transition from older to the newest technologies significantly easier for the dental office; they provide enhanced performance at a lower cost."
ClikTech developed Litening Rods™ in a close collaboration with XDR Radiology, Los Angeles, and its co-owner Dr. Adam Chen, DDS. Thermoplastic rods made of PPSU are stiff like metal but are 75% lighter, according to Gillen. The rods also offer easier handling due to an integrated handle grip design. They have the added benefit of incorporating a wire clip to accommodate the latest in digital sensors and work with any standard anterior, posterior, or bitewing ring. The rod attaches to a bite block receptacle which in turn holds the digital sensor.
Radel® PPSU is a super-tough thermoplastic with high heat resistance, exceptional hydrolytic stability and excellent chemical resistance. It can withstand over 1000 cycles of steam sterilization without significant loss of properties. It is inherently flame retardant and is resistant to bases and other chemicals. Radel® PPSU is also compliant with ISO 10993-1 for limited exposure, non-implantable applications. Litening Rods are 1/8-in square and five inches long and meet ISO 10993 and FDA requirements for intraoral use. They are commercially available through national dental distribution dealers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ajinomoto and Toray Sign Agreement to Conduct Joint Research on Biobased Nylon

Ajinomoto Co., Inc. ("Ajinomoto") and Toray Industries, Inc. ("Toray") have entered into an agreement to begin joint research for manufacturing the nylon raw material 1,5-pentanediamine (1,5-PD) from the amino acid lysine produced from plant materials by Ajinomoto using fermentation technology, and commercializing a biobased nylon made from this substance.

Biobased nylon is a type of nylon manufactured by polymerizing chemicals produced from plant materials. The biobased nylon that Ajinomoto and Toray will research and develop is produced from plant materials by decarbonating the amino acid lysine through an enzyme reaction to make 1,5-PD, which Toray then polymerizes with dicarboxylic acid. The amino acid lysine is a core product of the Ajinomoto Group produced using fermentation technology. This biobased nylon fiber made from 1,5-PD is not only sustainable because it is plant-based, but also shows promise for development into highly comfortable clothing. For example, nylon 56 fiber manufactured using 1,5-PD is pleasing to the touch, yet has the same strength and heat resistance as conventional nylon fiber made from the petrochemical derivative hexamethylenediamine. It also absorbs and desorbs moisture nearly as well as cotton.

The two companies have already carried out successful test production of 1,5-PD using Ajinomoto's feed-use lysine, as well as test production of biobased nylon made by polymerizing 1,5-PD. They plan to further expand the scope of their collaboration to include development of production processes and evaluation of use in textile and plastics applications.
This partnership between Ajinomoto, a leading manufacturer of amino acids, and Toray, a leading manufacturer of nylon, will enable the creation of biobased nylon products that are competitive in terms of quality, environmental protection and cost. Moreover, the companies will deepen their collaboration with a view toward using the membrane-integrated bioprocess being developed by Toray in the production technology for lysine, the raw material for 1,5-PD.
Through its businesses, Ajinomoto is working to contribute to solutions to the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, namely global sustainability, food resources and human health. In its bioscience and fine chemicals business, Ajinomoto is leveraging core Bio-Fine (bioscience and fine chemicals) technologies to add biomaterials as a new business area in which it will work toward the realization of a low-carbon, sustainable, recycling-oriented society. To accelerate development of new businesses and products, Ajinomoto will continue to actively pursue open innovation through partnerships with other companies and organizations around the world.
Toray's management policy states that all business strategies must place priority on the global environment in an effort to help realize a sustainable low-carbon society. Under this policy, Toray is expanding its biomass-derived materials business centered on research and development of biomass-derived polymers, including biobased nylon and polylactic acid (PLA). Expanding the biobased polymer business is also an important initiative central to the Green Innovation Business Expansion (GR) Project, which is part of Toray's new medium-term management program "Project AP-G 2013" launched in April 2011.

Definition of Terms
Lysine: One of the nine essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from food or other sources. Ajinomoto produces lysine with plant materials through fermentation, mainly for use as an additive in livestock feed. Adding lysine efficiently compensates for nutrients that tend to be lacking in feed while contributing to the environment by reducing the excretion of nitrogen, which causes soil and water pollution and generates greenhouse gases.
1,5-pentanediamine (1,5-PD): A monomer (diamine) with five carbon atoms. In this joint research, 1,5-PD is produced from Ajinomoto's amino acid L-lysine through a decarbonation reaction and used as a raw material for biobased nylon.
Membrane-integrated bioprocess: The membrane-integrated bioprocess that Toray is currently developing consists of three processes: a membrane separation process for cellulosic sugars, a membrane-integrated fermentation reactor, and a purification system using a membrane.
The membrane separation process for cellulosic sugars is a technology to remove impurities such as fermentation inhibitors generated as by-products during the hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass. The process enables the recycling of the saccharification enzyme and the efficient concentration of target sugars for production of low-cost, high-quality celluolosic sugars. The membrane-integrated fermentation reactor is a cell-recycling, continuous fermentation reactor based on a highly chemically stable membrane that enables continuous production for longer periods at faster rates than conventional batch fermentation. The purification system using a membrane is an energy-saving technology for removing impurities from fermentation broth and removing water to concentrate fermentative chemical products.

EPA Finalizes Air Toxic Emission Standards for PVC Production Facilities to Reduce Emissions

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued strong final standards requiring facilities that produce polyvinyl chloride and copolymers (PVC) to reduce harmful air emissions, which will improve air quality and protect people's health in communities where facilities are located. Exposure to toxic air pollutants, like those emitted from PVC facilities, can cause respiratory problems and other serious health issues, and can increase the risk of developing cancer. In particular, children are known to be more sensitive to the cancer risks posed by inhaling vinyl chloride, one of the known carcinogens emitted from PVC facilities.
The final standards are based on currently available technologies and will reduce emissions of air toxics, such as dioxin and vinyl chloride. Facilities will have the flexibility to choose the most practical and cost-effective control technology or technique to reduce the emissions. Facilities will be required to monitor emissions at certain points in the PVC production process to ensure that the standards are met.
Currently, there are 17 PVC production facilities throughout the United States, with a majority of these facilities located in Louisiana and Texas. All existing and any new PVC production facilities are covered by the final rule.
PVC production facilities manufacture PVC resins that are used to make a large number of commercial and industrial products at other manufacturing facilities. These products include latex paints, coatings, adhesives, clear plastics, rigid plastics, and flooring.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Passenger Plane Uses Lighter & Fuel-efficient High-tech Plastic Composites

The launch of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner passenger plane marks another step forward in aviation technology, the latest in a century-long history of dramatic advancements.
Over the last half-century, many of these advancements have resulted from innovations in plastics technology-and today plastics are helping create state-of-the-art airplanes that offer unparalleled durability, comfort, and fuel-efficiency.
The use of plastics in aircraft began in World War II. Remember in the film It's a Wonderful Life when Sam Wainwright offers George Bailey a "chance of a lifetime" making plastics from soybeans-and the angel Joseph later says that Sam "made a fortune in plastic hoods for planes" during World War II? Plastics also were used to construct the housing for radar equipment (since they don't impede the radar waves), they replaced rubber in airplane wheels, and they even were sprayed on fighter planes to protect against corrosion from salty seawater. Over the years, aviation technicians have found that the attributes of various plastics-favourable strength-to-weight ratios, heat resistance, flexibility, durability-make them useful in all sorts of aircraft. They can withstand the vibrations of helicopters, they help take astronauts into space, and they even make military aircraft less visible to radar.
New, high-tech plastics-such as carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP)-are helping make passenger aircraft lighter, more durable, and more fuel-efficient. CFRP are made of one or more plastics combined with fibers made from carbon, resulting in lightweight, extremely strong materials. State-of-the-art airplanes, including the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, rely on composites such as CFRP. Boeing states that 50 percent of the primary structure of the 787 is made with composites (up from about 12 percent in most aircraft) in place of traditional materials such as aluminum sheeting. These composites help reduce the weight of the aircraft and contribute to a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption. Better fuel efficiency also translates into lower carbon and other emissions during the lifetime of the aircraft. And the planes can fly longer without refueling, potentially resulting in longer non-stop flights. In addition, the use of plastic composites reduces the scrap and waste produced from working with traditional materials. And plastic composites also are less susceptible to fatigue and corrosion, so Boeing expects the aircraft to last longer and require fewer repairs.
The use of composite materials might even make for more comfortable travel. Why? The composite materials can sustain lower cabin pressure at high altitudes and higher humidity levels than traditional aluminum-bodied planes, so it's expected that passengers will fly more comfortably and arrive at their destinations feeling more rested.
What is next for plastic composites in flight? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is researching the use of large composite structures for elements of its space flight programs. The high strength-to-weight ratio and overall lower mass of composite structures could make it easier for NASA to transport larger payloads to and from space. An integral part of aviation for more than half a century, plastics continue to inspire innovation in all sorts of aircraft.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Toray to Build a Plant at TMQ to Produce Artificial Kidneys Made of Polysulfone

Toray Industries, Inc. and Toray Medical Co., Ltd. (head office: Urayasu-shi, Chiba; President: Motonaga Tanaka; hereinafter referred to as "TMC") announced recently that they have decided to build a new plant to manufacture artificial kidneys at Toray Medical (Qingdao) Co., Ltd. (TMQ), which was established in Jimo City, Qingdao, Shandong Province, in July 2011.
TMQ was established by Toray and TMC as joint venture with Qingdao Jifa Group Co., Ltd. (head office: Jimo Qingdao, China; President: Chen Yulan, General Manager: Yang Weidong (General Manager); hereinafter referred to as "Jifa") for manufacture and sales of dialysis machines. The plant for manufacturing of the dialysis machines is currently under construction and is expected to begin operations in the first half of 2012. The company expects to start selling the products at about the same time.
Toray and TMC are planning to build a plant for manufacturing artificial kidneys at a site adjacent to the dialysis machine plant by investing about 6 billion yen, aiming to start sales in the latter half of 2014. The plant will manufacture TORAYLIGHT™ NV, a polysulfone membrane artificial kidney(generic name: hollow-membrane dialyzer; authorization number: 22200BZX00871000), which was launched in Japan in April 2011. This will double Toray Group's production capacity for TORAYLIGHT™ products. Demand in the global dialysis market is expected to expand led by Asia and other developing nations. In particular, demand is expected to increase significantly in China boosted by factors including state policies on establishment of medical insurance systems. By enhancing this artificial kidney plant, Toray plans to expand its business to meet the growing demand in the future.
More than half of the demand for dialysis machines and artificial kidneys in the Chinese market is currently met through imports. Toray, by building a supply system with these two products, will swiftly respond to this current market requirement. At the same time, Toray expects to contribute to the improvement of dialysis treatment by bringing in the Group's entire dialysis technology to China. Toray and TMC position TMQ as the beachhead for the pharmaceutical and medical product business in China, and plan to strengthen the customer service in China and expand from the existing dialysis machine and artificial kidney business into other fields. With TMQ, the Toray Group aims to drive its business growth in the life science field, which is one of the Intensively Developing and Expanding Businesses to spearhead the next-generation business expansion under the medium-term management program Project "AP-G 2013".

Braj Binani Group Acquires Europe's 3B - The Fiberglass Company for a Total Outlay of € 275 Mn

Binani Industries Limited, the holding company of USD 1.6 billion Braj Binani Group, recently announced the acquisition of 3B - The Fibreglass Company ('3B'), a Europe-based major in fiberglass products and technologies. Binani Industries Limited is one of India's leading global diversified business houses, with interests in cement, zinc, glass fiber, composites and ready-mix concrete.

The Braj Binani Group has acquired a 100% equity interest in 3B from Platinum Equity. This acquisition is part of Braj Binani Group's strategy to expand its footprint in the global fiberglassmarket. It further augments the Group's technological and marketing capabilities in the fiberglass business.
Mr. Braj Binani, Chairman, Binani Industries Limited, said, "The acquisition, costing us €275 million, will strengthen our group's core operations at a global level. The group is present in fast-growth business segments, of which fiberglass is one. We are among one of the few groups globally that has a robust presence in this niche segment and we are working to accelerate our fiberglass operations further over the coming years. 3B is therefore a perfect match. We look forward to leveraging its expertise, strong R&D and excellent customer network."
This acquisition gives Binani Industries full ownership of 3B's global operating capacity of 1,50,000 tones per annum (tpa). It also provides access to its established customers, world-class technologies, marketing network, vast marketing geographies and skilled manpower. 3B has an extensive portfolio of products including chopped strands, direct rovings and continuous filament mats. Goa Glass Fiber Limited, a subsidiary of Binani Industries based in Goa, India with a manufacturing capacity of 20,000 tpa, has state-of-the-art operations in similar product categories and exports its products to over 15 countries across five continents.
The acquisition allows Binani Industries to consolidate its position in the global fiberglass market by increasing its product and customer base. The company will become a prominent supplier to industries such as automotive, wind energy, electrical, electronics, marine, infrastructure and transportation, primarily in Europe, where approximately 90 per cent of 3B's customers are based. Furthermore, the manufacturing plants that Binani Industries will own in Battice (Belgium) and Birkeland (Norway) will help it serve blue-chip customers in northern and central Europe. 45 per cent of 3B's customers are in Germany followed by the Netherlands and Belgium (14% each).
With regards to technology, Binani Industries will benefit from 3B's continuous product innovation and product development undertaken at its in-house R&D unit at Battice. This technology expertise will place Binani Industries in a premium position in the global fiberglass market.