Friday, March 30, 2012

Intermestic to Use SABIC's Lightweight Ultem™ PEI Resin for Replacing Metal in Zoff SMART Eyeglasses

SABIC's Innovative Plastics business' world-class expertise and technology were further evidenced with the company's announcement that Intermestic Inc., a specialty retailer of eyewear and accessories, has chosen tough, lightweight Ultem™polyetherimide (PEI) resin for the frames of its new line of Zoff SMART eyeglasses. The tailored, aerospace-grade Ultem resin material solution helps meet Japanese consumer demands for fresh, new eyewear styles with exceptional long-term performance and feather-light comfort; by allowing Intermestic to eliminate titanium and aluminum from the material selection process.

The Ultem resin also provides exceptional flexibility, flame retardance, and resistance to chemicals, heat and ultraviolet (UV) light, as well as greatly expanded design freedom, which enabled Intermestic to create stylish, eye-catching frames for sophisticated consumer appeal. The success of the new Zoff SMART eyeglass line showcases how SABIC is continuously improving technology, applications and solutions to help its customers succeed.

"We are delighted with the capabilities of SABIC's Ultem resin, which represents a new chapter in the evolution of eyewear," said Mr.Takeshi Ueno, president, Zoff. "This one material provides a complete solution for creating superior frames - from extremely light weight for wearability, to exceptional elasticity that allows you to bend the earpieces freely. The high quality and performance of this SABIC technology continues to help us achieve competitive advantages in our market space."

"Our Ultem resin has proven its quality and performance in a range of extremely demanding applications in key markets such as aerospace and healthcare, and its versatility gives this material great potential to add value in consumer goods," said Takeshi Maruyama, Japan country manager, Innovative Plastics. "At SABIC, we take the time to understand the diverse industries where our customers compete, whether it's aerospace or eyewear, and create customer-centric solutions to meet the standards of those segments.
The Zoff SMART frames help validate Ultem resin's continued success in replacing traditional materials to reduce weight and improve design freedom. We believe that by taking the lead in using Ultem resin, Intermestic will be in a stronger position to capture a larger share of the rapidly growing eyeglass market in Japan." The Japanese eyewear sector is expected to grow from 450 billion Japanese Yen (JPY) (USD$ 5.54 billion) in 2011 to 1 trillion JPY (USD$ 12.32 billion) in 2015.

The Eyes Have It:

Ultem resin delivers a broad range of desirable performance properties for eyeglass frames. The material offers elasticity coupled with resistance to deformation, allowing the frame to be bent easily yet returned to its original shape. Zoff SMART frames made with Ultem resin meet the Japan Standard Association JIS B 7285 standard, whose testing includes 20,000 bending repetitions (opening and closing the frame). The SABIC resin's dimensional stability ensures that the lenses are retained in the frame, while heat deflection at high temperatures protects the frames even when left on a car dashboard in hot sun.

In addition to its intrinsic light weight of up to 50 percent vs. metal, Ultem resin is suitable for precision thin-wall molding down to 1.2 mm, cutting weight even more. The weight of the Zoff SMART frame is 9.4 g without the lens, which compares very favorably to metal frames typically weighing around 20 g. The material can be custom colored to provide a wide range of aesthetic effects. Other potential eyewear applications for Ultem resin include entertainment eyewear (such as 3D glasses) and safety glasses.
"SABIC is very proactive in its approach to understanding changing customer needs and acts quickly and effectively to help our customers succeed," added Maruyama. "Our successful collaboration with Intermestic to help develop the Zoff SMART eyeglasses is a clear example of how we do this."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Queen's University & Bombardier Join Hands to Develop Reinforced Polymer Bars for Monorail Project

Building and evaluating a section of new monorail test track in Kingston is providing a unique learning opportunity for Queen's civil engineering students through collaborative research with Bombardier Transportation's System Division in Kingston.
"This project represents a significant step forward," says structural engineering professor and Canada Research Chair Amir Fam. "It provides a unique opportunity for testing Queen's technologies and designs in collaboration with a major industry leader."

Dr. Fam, Mark Green and graduate student Nik Wootton are part of a team using cutting edge structural engineering technologies on two of the support beams for the 1.5 kilometre long test track. They are using glass-fiber-reinforced polymer bars to reinforce one concrete beam. The beam is 11 meters long and weighs 30 tons.
"This initiative is symbolic of the opportunities for Queen's and Bombardier to work together toward building a long term relationship," says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). The unique project represents one of the largest ever applications of this technology in transportation infrastructure, using polymer bars up to 25 millimeters in diameter.
"We recognize the research at Queen's to be leading in the field," says Ziad Rizk, Engineering Director and Site Manager (Bombardier Systems Division). Other companies and organizations involved in the project include Anchor Concrete, McCormick Rankin, a member of MMM Group Limited, Trancels Pultrall and St. Lawrence College.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Solvay & JSP Create Fully Moldable Unique Solef® PVDF Foam for the Aircraft Industry

Solvay Specialty Polymers announced recently that a second generation of Solef® PVDF Foam is now available for the Aircraft market. New Solef® 82050 is the only fully moldable PVDF foam able to pass the key Aircraft Fire, Smoke and Toxicity Tests (FAR and AITM), which certify complete resistance to flame, total heat release, low toxicity on combustion products and reduced optical smoke density.
Thanks to the development of the base polymer matrix, new Solef® PVDF Bead Foam displays increased mechanical properties and higher temperature rating compared to the first generation of Solef® 80 000 Series e-PVDF. In addition to this, the innovative material allows a significant weight reduction, up to a 50% density decrease over the existing product, which is already sixteen times lighter than Solef® PVDF resin.
The new product is offered as foamed molded items, which will be simultaneously introduced at the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Show in Hamburg, Germany and the JEC in Paris, France that will both take place from March 27 to 29. Parts made of Solef® 80 000 e-PVDF are manufactured by JSP in partnership with Solvay Specialty Polymers.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

BASF's Ultramid® Finds Application in Creation of Lightweight Auto Seat Pan in Opel Astra OPC

The new Opel Astra OPC, a sport coupe, which was introduced at the Geneva Auto Show at the beginning of March 2012, has a seat panmade from a thermoplastic laminate with continuous fiber reinforcement (organo sheet). This is the world's first auto seat pan based on this technology manufactured for a production vehicle. The plastics used are polyamide specialties from BASF's Ultramid® product range. The seat pan is 45% lighter than its predecessor.
Thermoplastic laminates with continuous fiber reinforcement, also called composites, are plastic-impregnated fabrics that are processed into laminates. They serve as the reinforcement in plastic parts that must be especially lightweight yet still exhibit exceptional performance. BASF developed two special Ultramid grades for the Opel Astra OPC seat pan: an unreinforced grade acts as the material in which the glass fiberfabric is embedded, an impact-modified, short glass fiber-reinforced Ultramid is used as over molding material to achieve the necessary ribs and edges of the part by means of classical injection molding. Thanks to the high strength of the laminate, the wall thicknesses can be reduced considerably, allowing the weight of the seat pan to be lowered distinctly.

Simulation for composite parts with continuous fiber reinforcement:

After the seat pan in the Opel Insignia OPC was made from Ultramid in 2008, albeit still without laminate reinforcement, technological cooperation between the two companies went a step further. To design and build the seat pan for the Astra OPC, BASF engineers further provided material descriptions for the virtual design of both the continuous fiber-reinforced laminate and the over molded ribbed areas of the part. The knowledge gained from this experience will be incorporated into an extension of BASF's Ultrasim® universal simulation tool, making it possible to predict the behavior of thermoplastic composite parts with continuous fiber reinforcement.
The composite seat pan is produced by means of in-mold forming: this involves placing the heated and formable, thermoplastic laminate in the injection mold, turning it into the necessary shape, fixing it cleverly and immediately over molding it. BASF was able to support its customer with its own expertise in this innovative manufacturing process.
The seat back, the transverse support and the handle on the back are also made from Ultramid. The seat has 18 adjustment options, allowing optimal adaptation to the body of the driver or passenger. Following numerous other vehicle seats at Opel, the seat for the new Astra OPC also received an award from Aktion Gesunder Rücken e.V. (AGR), the Campaign for Healthy Backs.

EPA Imposes Stringent Rules on Use of Five Potentially Harmful Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed that companies be required to report to EPA all new uses, including in domestic or imported products, of five groups of potentially harmful chemicals. Over the years, these chemicals have been used in a range of consumer products and industrial applications, including paints, printing inks, pigments and dyes in textiles, flame retardants in flexible foams, and plasticizers. This action is part of EPA's work to ensure chemical safety in order to protect Americans' health and the environment.

The five chemicals EPA is targeting are polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs)benzidine dyes, a short chain chlorinated paraffin, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD), and phthalate di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP). The agency is also proposing additional testing on the health and environmental effects of PBDEs.
"Although a number of these chemicals are no longer manufactured or used in the U.S. they can still be imported in consumer goods or for use in products. Today's proposed actions will ensure that EPA has an opportunity to review new uses of the chemicals, whether they are domestically produced or imported, and if warranted, take action to prohibit or limit the activity before human health or environmental effects can occur," said Jim Jones, EPA's acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. "These actions also signal EPA's ongoing commitment to the American people that the agency is taking significant steps to make sure that the chemicals manufactured and used in this country are safe."
The proposed regulatory actions are known as significant new use rules (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The proposed rules would require that anyone who intends to manufacture, import, or process any of the chemicals for an activity that is designated as a significant new use to submit a notification to EPA at least 90 days before beginning the activity. This notification means EPA can evaluate the intended new use and take action to prohibit or limit that activity, if warranted. For PBDEs, the agency will also issue simultaneously a proposed test rule under section 4(a) of TSCA that would require manufacturers or processors to conduct testing on health and environmental effects of PBDEs.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Value of Shale Gas for Bio-plastics Production to be Evaluated at BioPlastek 2012 Forum

The discovery of massive shale gas resources has brought about a major increase in U.S. natural gas reserves. This development has particular significance for the chemical and plastics industries. When natural gas is passed through crackers, abundant, low cost supplies of some chemical feedstocks result.
The emergence of shale gas brings into question the economic viability of renewable chemicals and drop-in biobased plastics, especially high volume PEPP and PET. At the BioPlastek 2012 Forum, on March 28-30 in Arlington, Virginia, USA, this will be one of the key issues to be discussed during several of the sessions.
This much we do know: U.S. polyethylene producers are already big beneficiaries of the shale gas boom. This is because ethane is primarily produced when passing natural gas through crackers. On converting the low cost ethane into ethylene, U.S. PE producers now a major feedstock advantage. Still to be clarified is whether the shale gas sourced PE has a cost advantage over sugarcane derived, biobased PE from Brazil. In the future as 2nd generation biomass evolves (e.g. cellulosic ethanol), will this favor renewable PE drop-ins?
According to consultants at Nexant, increased production of ethane derived from shale gas has also meant reduced production of propylene feedstock, and with it a higher price for polypropylene. But biobased PP is not yet commercially available and depending on the pathway taken, it remains to be seen if it will be cost competitive with fossil fuel derived PP.
A more complex question is what impact will shale gas have on the economics of biobased PET. The fact that there are two building blocks (MEG and PTA) adds to the complexity. Although ethanol is a chemical intermediate for PET building block MEG, its carbon content contributes only 20% to PET's total carbon content. The greater unknown is which of several possible pathways to p-xylene (the precursor to the monomer PTA) will win out. Will any of this benefit from shale gas?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

USPTO Awards Patent to Gevo's Critical Technology That Uses Yeast for Isobutanol Production

 Gevo, Inc., an innovative renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company, recently announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted U.S. Patent No. 8,133,715, entitled "Reduced By-Product Accumulation for Improved Production of Isobutanol."
"Yeast naturally produces isobutanol at low yields," said Brett Lund, EVP & General Counsel of Gevo. "In order to produce isobutanol at commercially relevant yields suitable for commercial implementation several improvements to the pathway need to be made, including elimination of pathways that "hijack" carbohydrates. Pathway hijacking lowers yield and creates unwanted by-products. The patent issued today covers the technology to eliminate one of the hijacking pathways, and improves yield of isobutanol by 20 percent. Without this technology, it is doubtful that an isobutanol producing yeast would be commercially viable."
"When you design a biocatalyst it needs to be efficient," continued Lund. "Unwanted by-products need to be eliminated or yields would be too low to use the biocatalyst commercially. Our scientists were the first to figure out how to stop these yield reducing pathways. We strongly believe this modification is strictly required for achieving commercially relevant production of isobutanol. Thus, without access to this technology we believe our competitors will be unable to produce isobutanol at economically viable levels."
"We are pleased that the USPTO continues to recognize our advances in this field," said Lund. "We are pioneering commercially viable efficiencies in isobutanol production and are on target to startup the world's first renewable isobutanol operation in 2012. By obtaining and protecting our intellectual property, we are securing our role as the global leader in the technology and commercialization of isobutanol. With this patent we continue to add to our portfolio of more than 300 patents and applications for the economic production of isobutanol, process innovations and downstream product applications."
Gevo also filed a lawsuit against Butamax™ Advanced Biofuels, LLC (Butamax) and its affiliate E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont). Based on Dupont and Butamax public disclosures, the lawsuit charges Butamax and DuPont infringe this newly issued patent. "Once again, Gevo believes that DuPont and Butamax continue to use technology that is not theirs," noted Lund.

Solvay's Zeniva PEEK Biomaterial Finds Application in Envoy's Implantable Hearing System

Envoy Medical Corp., St. Paul, Minn., has developed the industry's first totally implantable hearing system for moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss. The Esteem® prosthetic hearing restoration device features two terminal connectors made of Zenivapolyetheretherketone (PEEK) resin from Solvay® Specialty Polymers USA, LLC. Zeniva® PEEK - part of Solvay's family of Solviva® Biomaterials - provides biocompatibility, strong insulative properties, and excellent mechanical performance. 

Unlike hearing aids, the Esteem implantable hearing device does not use a microphone or a speaker. Instead, it uses the natural ear drum to detect sound and send a clear message to the brain, via the auditory nerve, by stimulating the cochlea with its prosthetic simulator. Last year, Envoy Medical received pre-market approval (PMA) from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for commercial distribution of the Esteem® implantable hearing device.
"We believe that the Esteem implantable hearing system represents a major breakthrough that provides an alternative to non-implantable and partially implantable hearing aids," said Kevin Verzal, research and development engineer for Envoy Medical. "Zeniva PEEK provides the exceptional properties that are required of a high-precision implant in this critical application."
The innovative design incorporates two terminal connectors (0.1-in by 0.5-in / 2.5 mm by 12.7 mm) for the transducers which are injection molded of Zeniva® PEEK. The biomaterial offers better insulative properties and higher mechanical strength than previously used materials like silicone. Zeniva® PEEK offers many important benefits including biocompatibility and chemical inertness. 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.
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.
Envoy® Medical sells the Esteem implantable hearing device directly to patients. The company matches patients with Envoy-approved surgical centers throughout the U.S. along with its own independently owned surgical center in The Woodlands, Texas.
In addition to Zeniva® PEEK, Solvay's line of Solviva® Biomaterials includes Proniva® self-reinforced polyphenylene (SRP), one of the world's stiffest and strongest unreinforced thermoplastics that offers exceptional biocompatibility and hardness; Veriva® polyphenylsulfone (PPSU), which provides unsurpassed toughness combined with transparency and excellent biocompatibility; and Eviva® polysulfone (PSU), which offers practical toughness in a strong, transparent polymer. These sterilizable products are available in resin for injection molding or extrusion.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Petcore Introduces Innovative Recycling Method to Manufacture Plastic Pellets Using Ocean Litter

Production-run pellets made partially from plastic ocean litter have become a reality, thanks to 18 months of cooperation between packaging brand designer Method and recycler Envision Plastics Industries LLC.
The first batch of pellets streamed off the production line at Envision's Chino plant around noon March 1. Executives from both companies beamed with pride and excitement, and captured the technology breakthrough, snapping pictures and video. They then watched as the otherwise unassuming black pellets were loaded into 1,200-pound boxes, ready to be molded into a Method-designed container that will hit a major grocery chain this fall. "We did a couple of fist pumps," smiled Adam Lowry, co-founder, CEO and chief groundskeeper of the SanFrancisco-based Method, whose packages are made from 100 percent recycled materials.
Lowry declined to name the product that will be made from the ocean scrap, but he said that it will be an existing product, in one of the company's "iconic shapes." Method-brand products include household and personal-care items. The container will be made by a major plastics packaging blow molder. The two companies overcame obstacles to reach this point.
A major one: Plastic made from ocean litter is more brittle than traditional recycled plastic because of exposure to ultraviolet light and ocean degradation. The two companies had to develop the right blend of materials for the pellets, which initially will be made from 75 percent traditionally recycled high density polyethylene and 25 percent ocean litter. The litter is a 50-50 mix of HDPE and polypropylene that was collected on Hahuku Beach on the island of Kaui in Hawaii, where it had settled after floating down from the North Pacific Gyre.
"It's something we've worked together on for longer than a year," said Parham Yedidsion, a co-owner of Envision Plastics. "The ocean scrap is ??more challenging, so we had to do a lot of testing and qualification work." In addition, he said ocean scrap requires more hand-sorting because of the need to take out items such as buoys and plastic nets. The material also runs through optical sorters before it is ground into flake, washed, and blended with traditional post-consumer HDPE flake, before being fed into an extruder and repelletized.
Method employees - in cooperation with school groups and beach-cleaning groups - collected the material for the initial production run from three very large beach cleanups in slightly more than one year.
Method does not know the exact amount of material it has recycled from Hahuku Beach. But in one sweep, "We collected 3,700 pounds of plastics in two hours," said Rudi Becker, packaging director and chief resonator, who helped collect the plastic litter with a couple of dozen school-age children on that trip. "It's an eye-opening, surreal experience to go there and see it," Becker said. "Sometimes, it's overwhelming because the beach is no cleaner when you are done than when you started because more plastics scrap washes up before you're done." Neither Becker, Lowry or any of the Envision executives have any delusions that their work can clean up the Pacific Gyre. But the companies want to raise awareness of the need to reuse plastic over and over and over again.
"There is a tremendous amount of little fragments of plastics on the top layer of the ocean in the gyre and it is an amount of litter that is literally impossible to clean up," Lowry said. "As long as we continue to make new virgin plastics instead of recycling plastics products, this problem gets worse. The real solution to the plastics pollution problem is to use the plastics we already have on the planet. If you don't make new plastics, you don't create new waste," he said.
Yedidsion agreed. "We need to educate people to recycle plastic packaging and products as opposed to throwing them away." He said Envision got involved in the project because it sends the right message. "We always look at how we bring high value to our customers and to ourselves," he said. "Every step of the way - like with these first boxes of pellets today - we try to push the company forward and raise that bar."
Lowry said the pellets are the first phase of the 12-year-old company's plan to raise awareness of the plastics pollution problem. "Phase one of this project is to just go out and get the plastics we need to make this product," he said. "We know we can go and collect it and all it takes in man-hours. In phase two, we want to work with a lot of beach cleanup organizations all over the world and we want to set up a network to intercept that plastic scrap before it goes to landfills. We can scale it much larger and that is the way to do it.
"The world is going to need a lot more products that are designed more sustainable," Lowry said. "We are going to have to dig deeper and make science-based decisions about those things and what is best from an environmental standpoint. We want to do something innovative that makes a change in the market and have an impact larger than our [physical] size and presence in the market."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Define Kindness

Kindness is the basis of happiness. Kindness is the basis of the life we live. Kindness is the basis of the dharma. The basis of practicing the dharma should be on a caring positive mind. So kindness is understanding. Kindness is a thing that you don't take advantage of. It is seeing that it is directly and indirectly benefiting you. For example, if you are giving alms to a beggar and if you have a feeling of savior or superiority, then think twice. Who is doing a favor to whom. I would say that the beggar is doing a favor to you. If there is no beggar, and if you have the motivation of accumulating merit by giving alms to beggars, then who are you going to give to? Kindness can produce a good caring heart. So think of kindness towards your parents who care for you, your friends who are doing something special to you, and even to a waiter who is serving you. Don't take advantage of that or think you own that because it is their responsibility or that they should since you are paying for it. 

Kindness can help you gain caring and showing kindness means you understand. So please practice kindness. When you think of kindness towards your teacher, you gain devotion. When you think of kindness towards your parents, you gain respect and caring. And when you practice kindness towards the general public, you become more positive and good hearted, naturally. When you practice kindness towards your loved ones, your understanding grows and so does your patience. So basically only by practicing kindness, you are producing more positive thoughts and as a result, improving the qualities of your life. 

For those of you who don't feel much kindness towards others, you should at least be very kind to your ego!  The most important key is that you need to see your own faults and to do this, you need to be kind to your ego. Because when you do so, you'll see your mistakes and the causes of those mistakes.