Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SABIC's Novel LEXAN™ FST3403 PC Copolymer Meets Fire Safety Standard for Rail Seat Backs

SABIC's Innovative Plastics business recently announced new LEXAN™ FST3403 (flame-smoke-toxicity) polycarbonate (PC) copolymer, the first thermoplastic solution for rail seating applications to meet the strictest fire safety requirements under the CEN/TS 45445 standard. Now commercial a full two years before this European standard goes into effect, new high-performance.

LEXAN FST3403 copolymer — developed specifically for seat back shells and side covers — achieved the highest possible hazard level rating (HL3) under CEN/TS 45445-2 R5. In addition to its exceptional heat release, smoke density and toxicity performance, documented by independent laboratory testing, the LEXAN FST copolymer delivers high flow properties for injection molding large parts with excellent aesthetics and impact strength. Today's new product launch demonstrates SABIC's commitment to meeting evolving public safety standards with tailored thermoplastic solutions that support the needs of transportation industry customers.

"SABIC's proactive focus on developing advanced materials technology for rail industry customers will give them a significant head start in developing compliant seating components for a first-to-market competitive advantage," said Ilknur Gur, general manager, Specialty Business in Europe, Innovative Plastics. "Our new LEXAN FST3403 copolymer enables customers to continue using thermoplastics in their seat back shells and side covers instead of having to revert to traditional metal or thermosets that can inhibit design flexibility and potentially add weight and costs from secondary operations. This industry-leading technology greatly simplifies and accelerates compliance with the new European standard."

Combining High Performance and Attractive Aesthetics:

LEXAN FST3403 copolymer was tested by the Currenta Institute in Germany according to the requirements of CEN/TS 45445-2 R5 for seat back shells and side covers. This independent facility certified that LEXAN FST3403 copolymer complies with the requirements of HL3, the most challenging hazard level to achieve. Currenta tested the material for heat release under ISO 5660-1 and for smoke density and toxicity under ISO 5659-2.

The material also provides high flow capabilities that enable large parts, such as seat back shells, to be injection molded without marks, texture defaults, flow lines and other surface defects. It can also be molded in tooling that is typically used for PC/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) materials. Another aesthetic benefit of LEXAN FST3403 copolymer is its ability to be custom colored, which avoids the need for secondary painting.
LEXAN FST3403 copolymer provides the sufficient impact performance and chemical resistance that are hallmarks of LEXAN PC resin. These properties help protect railcar, bus and tram seating from wear and tear.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Solvay Boosts PEEK & PAEK Production Capacity in India for Auto, Aero, Medical Sectors and more

Solvay announced recently a capacity increase of 70% at its Panoli plant, India, for the production of its high performance polymers KetaSpirepolyetheretherketone (PEEK)® and AvaSpire® polyaryletherketones (PAEK). Panoli is Solvay's largest plant worldwide for these two innovative ultra performance polymers that tower at the top of the plastics performance pyramid. Nearly half of this capacity increase has already been implemented and successfully brought on-line. The second phase of the project will be completed by mid 2013 and will allow the plant to continue to satisfy growth in demand.

The ultra-high performance of KetaSpire® polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and AvaSpire® polyaryletherketones (PAEK) along with their ease of processing provide substantial value for design engineers. The products are used in a diverse range of applications spanning many industries including aeronautic, automotive (e.g. mechanical components in cars), healthcare (medical equipment and reusable medical devices), electronics, oil & gas exploration and production, and process industries such as semiconductor manufacturing (chip testing and wafer processing).

"Solvay is delighted with the growth of its line of polyketone materials and we are very excited to be adding capacity for this business that we launched just a few years ago," commented Augusto Di Donfrancesco, General Manager of the Global Business Unit Specialty Polymers. "Our focus from the start was to deliver products with consistently high quality and performance and we believe this has been a key driver in the rapid market acceptance of our KetaSpire® PEEK resins. With AvaSpire® PAEK, we are impressed with how innovative design engineers are capitalizing on the entirely new performance dimensions offered by these materials", added Chris Wilson, Vice President for the Spire Ultra Polymers business.
With this investment, the Group reaches a new milestone in realizing its ambition to double its sales in India by 2015. Last week Solvay announced it is acquiring a controlling stake in Sunshield Chemicals, an Indian company specializing in surfactants, and some months ago it opened a major innovation centre in Savli (Gujarat State). The Group has been doing business in India since 2000 through its Novecare, Engineering Plastics and Specialty Polymers activities. With seven production sites and about 900 employees, the Group generated net sales of EUR 180 million in India in 2011.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Novamont's Bioplastic Container Aids Airline Caterer to Retain Eco Sustainability of In-fligh Meals

Swedish airline Malmö Aviation recently introduced a new catering container on its flights aimed at significantly reducing the problem of disposing of waste from their on-board catering service.
It was the airline caterer Picknick served by Omikron, packaging manufacturer, who was searching for a new sustainable solution.
The Swedish manufacturer Iggesund Paperboard supported them with suitable material for the purpose. Iggesund, specialized in coated paperboard for the premium packaging market, is a long-standing partner of Novamont.

In addition to the box, which is made from a virgin fiber-based paperboard called Invercote, the solution also includes a serving tray suitable for fresh food, made of Invercote Bio, extrusion coated with Mater-Bi®, Novamont's biodegradable and compostable bioplastic (according to EN 13432).
Produced in a modified atmosphere to ensure the food remains fresh, the serving tray — thanks to the use of Mater-Bi® — can be disposed of together with food scraps and sent to composting and anaerobic digestion plants, which transform wet waste into compost and biogas
"Using this combination of paperboard and bioplastic, both of which certified compostable to European standards, means the new box is perfect for today's recycling systems and also for future systems," said Jonas Adler, commercial manager of Invercote Bio products at Iggesund.
"This solution not only saves space but also helps protect the environment," added Malin Olin, Inflight and Lounge Manager at Malmo Aviation.
Mater-Bi® — the range of biodegradable and compostable bioplastics produced by Novamont — is rapidly becoming one of the reference materials for food packaging and catering thanks to its biodegradability and compostability. These are features that bring a highly added value when dealing with products contaminated by food scraps that would otherwise be difficult and uneconomical to recycle.
"Increasingly organizations and individuals are thinking about the 'end-of-life' issue of many products in everyday use, and therefore the creation and disposal of waste. We believe bioplastics can provide part of the solution to certain aspects of this issue as they can be composted together with organic waste," said Catia Bastioli, CEO of Novamont.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Purac at Fakuma: To Exhibit PURALACT® Lactide (PLA), Green Alternative for Engineering Plastics

Purac will be presenting biobased solutions for high performance Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) at Fakuma 2012, 16-20 October in Friedrichshafen, Germany [#booth 4207 in Hall B4]. Fakuma 2012 is one of the most important exhibitions for the plastics processing industry worldwide, and will provide the forum for Purac to present its PURALACT® Lactide innovations. These innovations open up new possibilities for producers seeking biobased alternatives to current fossil fuel based engineering plastics.
PLA now offers the possibility to replace PSPP and ABS in those applications where heat resistance is a key requirement. Purac's technology can increase the heat stability of PLA to the range of 80 - 180 degrees Celsius.

Purac's solutions for high performance PLA for the injection molding and thermoforming industries unlock bioplastic potential for high temperature applications, such as microwavable food packaging and hot beverage cups, and also for durable applications in a range of high end markets, such as automotive, carpet, clothing and consumer electronics and appliances. PURALACT L & D based homopolymers — known as PLLA and PDLA - are the key to this improved heat performance and are now commercially available from Purac.
At Fakuma 2012, Purac will demonstrate its capabilities by presenting thin wall, thermoformed hot beverage cups produced from PURALACT based PLA which are able to resist the high temperatures associated with hot beverages like tea or coffee.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Teknor Apex Offers Nylon 6/12, Glass & Carbon Fiber Reinforced Compounds for Auto Fuel Handling

Amidst current automotive industry concerns about nylon 12 supplies, two new injection molding compounds based on nylon 6 /12 provide comparable performance in the fuel-line components that comprise the major application for nylon 12, it was announced recently by the Nylon Division of Teknor Apex Company.
New Chemlon® 813 CI and 830 GHI fiber-reinforced compounds based on nylon 6 /12 polymer provide the excellent chemical resistance and low moisture absorption required in fuel line components, according to Jeff Schmidt, Automotive Market Manager. He noted that the compounds are already in commercial use for one such application.
The 13% loading of carbon fiber in the Chemlon 813 CI product provides antistatic conductivity often called for in fuel line components. Chemlon 830 GHI compound has a 30% loading of glass fiber for enhanced strength and rigidity in applications such as connectors. [Physical properties are outlined in the accompanying table.]

While some nylon polymers present problems in holding to desired part dimensions because of high levels of moisture pickup, the new nylon 6 / 12 compounds gain only slightly more moisture than nylon 12, according to Schmidt. "Finished part dimensions are acceptable in existing tooling used for nylon 12," he said, "with little to no modification needed. At the same time, Chemlon 800 Series materials process in shorter cycles and at higher melt temperatures than nylon 12."
The chemical resistance exhibited by Chemlon 800 Series compounds is very high, Schmidt noted. "Extensive testing has shown the compound to be well suited for fuel handling uses."
Automotive has long been the largest market for Chemlon nylon 6, 6 / 6, 6 / 10, and 6 / 12 compounds. "For manufacturers seeking alternatives to nylon 12, Teknor Apex provides extensive automotive industry experience, expertise in custom compounding, and strong engineering support," said Schmidt. "With nylon operations in the USA, the UK, and Singapore, we have sufficient compounding capacity to meet new demand for nylon 6 /12."

Researchers Develop Bioplastics Made from Waste Cooking Oil for Medical Applications

'Bioplastics' that are naturally synthesized by microbes could be made commercially viable by using waste cooking oil as a starting material. This would reduce environmental contamination and also give high-quality plastics suitable for medical implants, according to scientists presenting their work at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn Conference at the University of Warwick.
The Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) family of polyesters is synthesized by a wide variety of bacteria as an energy source when their carbon supply is plentiful. Poly 3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) is the most commonly produced polymer in the PHA family. Currently, growing bacteria in large fermenters to produce high quantities of this bioplastic is expensive because glucose is used as a starting material.

Work by a research team at the University of Wolverhampton suggests that using waste cooking oil as a starting material reduces production costs of the plastic. "Our bioplastic-producing bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha H16, grew much better in oil over 48 hours and consequently produced three times more PHB than when it was grown in glucose," explained Victor Irorere who carried out the research. "Electrospinning experiments, performed in collaboration with researchers from the University of Birmingham, showed that nanofibers of the plastic produced from oils were also less crystalline, which means the plastic is more suited to medical applications."

Previous research has shown that PHB is an attractive polymer for use as a microcapsule for effective drug delivery in cancer therapy and also as medical implants, due to its biodegradability and non-toxic properties. Improved quality of PHB combined with low production costs would enable it to be used more widely.
The disposal of used plastics — which are largely non-biodegradable — is a major environmental issue. Plastic waste on UK beaches has been steadily increasing over the past two decades and now accounts for about 60% of marine debris. "The use of biodegradable plastics such as PHB is encouraged to help reduce environmental contamination. Unfortunately the cost of glucose as a starting material has seriously hampered the commercialization of bioplastics," said Dr Iza Radecka who is leading the research. "Using waste cooking oil is a double benefit for the environment as it enables the production of bioplastics but also reduces environmental contamination caused by disposal of waste oil."
The next challenge for the group is to do appropriate scale-up experiments, to enable the manufacture of bioplastics on an industrial level.

USM's Prof Develops Novel Plastic Material that Bleeds & Heels like Human Skin

It's the stuff of dreams that became a reality in a University of Southern Mississippi laboratory.
Inspired by his own dream of a technology now considered revolutionary in the world of plastics research, polymer science professor Marek Urban developed a unique type of plastic material that turns red or "bleeds" when damaged.

When the damage occurs, or when stressors mount that portend damage to the material, the molecule links that span along chains of chemicals within the material split and release a color simulating bleeding. After exposure to sunlight or change in temperature, the material begins repairing itself in much the same way human skin does.
"I dreamed of developing this after thinking about how human skin repairs itself when damaged, and how blood coming from the injury works as a sign of that damage," Urban said. "Sometimes, damage to material may not be visible to the human eye, but with the release of the colors that mimic bleeding we have a warning of damage."

The material has the potential to be developed into self-repairing surfaces in a wide variety of commonly used products, including cell phones, laptops and military weapons.
Stuff, a publication of Britain's Haymarket Media Company covering the latest in popular technology, cited the invention as among "5 materials that could change the world" in its May edition. In its assessment the magazine notes, "This plastic, which 'bleeds' red then heals itself with light, is being hailed as the Holy Grail of materials. The plastic could be developed for use in self-healing cars, planes and bridges. Oh, and gadgets. RIP insurance?"

Earlier this year, Urban made a presentation on the invention at the 243rd National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society.
"Dr. Urban is one of the most inventive people I've come across," said his Southern Miss colleague Dr. Robert Lochhead. "He has a valuable talent that is rarely found; that is, to have an original idea that meets human or societal needs, and then to take that idea to an invention and implement it."
Urban is enthusiastic that further research, with the assistance of graduate students and staff in his Urban Research Group, can extend the material to usage in cars, planes and spacecraft, as well as large infrastructure. The development of similar material that can also withstand high temperatures is on the drawing board.
"I believe there are endless possibilities, and we continue our research in hopes of capturing those possibilities that can further enhance our quality of life through the products we access daily," Urban said.