Several leading global brands have joined hands to shift to plant based feedstock for packaging as crude oil prices continue to sky rocket. Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co., H.J. Heinz Co., Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble have come together to boost the development of 100% plant-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in their products including bottles, apparel, footwear, automotive fabrics and carpets. The companies have formed the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC) in order to evolve a material that is partially made from plants to one made entirely from plant. The collaborative aims to drive the development of common methodologies and standards for the use of plant-based plastic including life-cycle analysis and universal terminology, which in turn will be promoted by the brands with and used by both PTC and non-PTC members globally.
New opportunities to increase antimicrobial resistance of agricultural films for more effective crop protection
A pioneering solution to control and extend the useful life of biodegradable polymers, which will create new opportunities to increase the antimicrobial resistance of agricultural films for more effective crop protection has been unveiled by SANITIZED AG. The new Sanitized® antimicrobial solutions, from Switzerland?s world-leading producer of antimicrobial hygiene function and material protection for textiles and plastics, prevent rapid degradation of biodegradable polymers by protecting against microbe and fungal attack. They allow polymers to be programmed in their effective use and yet remain fully biodegradable.
Consequently, PLA (Polylactic Acid) films made from renewable resources and films based on other biodegradable polymers can maintain their performance criteria and functional life expectancy for the desired duration.The use of plastic films by farmers is fully accepted as one of the tools that extend a growing season, protecting young plants from weather, often early in the year, and from unexpected and unpredictable storms.
The agriculture industry was one of the first market segments to embrace biodegradable materials in its efforts to ensure that sustainability remains fundamental to the products that are eventually consumed by the general public. However, biodegradable films have suffered in the past from extremely rapid degradation leaving young plants vulnerable to weather exposure. Biodegradable polymer based film must remain in place for a defined period of time, depending on the crop that it is protecting and the region where it is in use. This can range from up to one year, but most often, three to six months, allowing seedlings to propagate and become established such that they can flourish on their own and benefit from being in the open air. ?Sanitized® enables control over the biodegradable time frame allowing the farming industry to maximize the production volume per hectare as well as determining when crops can be harvested and delivered in optimum condition to the customer. Depending on the concentration of the Sanitized® additives and factors such as the expected form of exposure and moisture levels, the effective life expectancy of the film can be determined accordingly. As a result, antimicrobial additives are helping to improve the cost effectiveness of crop production as well as contributing to the overall sustainability of the food we enjoy.? comments Maria Toscan, Product Manager Polymers at SANITIZED AG.
With the electric vehicle (EV) production set to grow at a CAGR of over 80% 2017, plastics used in these vehicles will also see a tremendous growth. The need to increase EV mile range, paralleled by the inherent advantages of plastics, particularly that of lightweight ? will drive penetration rates. Analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the market earned revenues of US$ 0.5 mln in 2010 and estimates this to reach US$73 mln in 2017. The research covers power train plastics, battery casing plastics, thermal management system materials and wire and cable plastic materials. As the electric vehicles market takes off, it is set to have a positive ripple effect on the uptake of plastics.
“Plastics for EVs are driven by lightweighting trends which, in turn, are fuelled by the need to improve EV mile range,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Shree Vidhyaa Karunanidhi. “EVs are typically characterised by huge batteries which add to the overall weight of the vehicle and affect the mile range. To compensate for the battery weight, metals are increasingly being substituted by plastic.” Important structural components such as gears and motors are made of metal. Strength and crash-resistance requirements indicate that metals will remain the preferred material for these applications. However, plastics have huge potential in some of the minor, non-moving components such as energy recovery devices, cooling pipes, pumps, fans, and casing materials. The current level of penetration of plastics in these components varies. In the case of cooling pipes and fans, plastics are preferred, whereas for other components such as energy recovery devices (pedal and pump) and casing materials, plastics have low to moderate penetration. The inherent features of plastics are, nonetheless, set to push their rapid growth rate in these segments. “The reduced scope for plastics in EVs in comparison to conventional, gasoline-fuelled vehicles poses a major restraint to market prospects,” cautions Shree Vidhyaa. “EU end-of-life vehicle (ELV) recycling legislation, which entails the use of recyclable materials, poses another challenge to market participants.” Although thermoplastics used in these cars are recyclable, automotive shredders are typically made up of different types of plastics. These need to be sorted out before they are recyclable. Therefore, on the one hand there is a need for lightweight cars to improve the mile range in EVs. On the other hand, ELV recycling legislation requires the OEMs to use recyclable materials. “This issue can be solved if OEMs work with tier-1 suppliers to develop recycling technologies,” advises Shree Vidhyaa. “This will ensure sustainable use of plastics in the long-term.”
Four core companies of Formosa Plastics Group have reported losses in monthly revenue. Formosa Petrochemical Corp has reported the largest drop in monthly revenue among the Group?s four core companies of 22.8% to NT$66.496 bln (US$2.21 bln) from April 2012, as per TaipeiTimes. This can be attributed to recent declines in global crude oil and ethylene prices, which have affected sales of its petrochemical products amid deteriorating petrochemical demand from China. Formosa Petrochemical president opines that consumption in China is slumping. While bank credit may be readily available in China, 40% of processing plants there are barely breaking even and 30% are in the red, while many companies are not borrowing because of fears they will not be able to repay the loans. Worries abound that China has not yet bottomed out as manufacturers continue to reduce their inventories. The crisis this time is a demand crisis, unlike 2008, when it was a financial crisis.
The group?s flagship company Formosa Plastics Corp, saw last month?s sales fall 6.7% month-on-month to NT$14.04 bln and 16.4% year-on-year. Aromatics and styrenics producer Formosa Chemicals and Fibre Corp reported a 4.9% revenue drop to NT$25.05 bln from the previous month, but an increase of 3.6% from a year earlier. Nan Ya Plastics Corp, the nation?s largest plastics maker, reported a sequential sales decline of 6.8% to NT$14.07 bln last month, a drop of 14.2% from one year ago.
Overall, the group?s four core companies posted combined revenue of NT$119.66 bln last month, down 16.1% month-on-month. Revenues in the first five months of the year reached NT$666.96 billion, down 3% from a year earlier.
Fuwei Films (Holdings) Co., Ltd., a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality BOPET plastic films in China, announced that the anti-dumping duties imposed on the company’s exported biaxially oriented polyethylene-terephthalate (BOPET) films to South Korea will be extended for three more years beginning on May 25, 2012.
According to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the rate for Fuwei Films Shandong Co., Ltd (”Shandong Fuwei”), the subsidiary of Fuwei Films was set at 11.72%, higher than one of its counterparts at 5.87%. Punitive duties of 25.32% will be imposed on the PET films manufactured by six Chinese firms. The rate for the remaining Chinese manufacturers was set at 23.61%.
Anti-dumping duties of 14.63% and 25.32% were slapped on products produced in India.
The PVC industry met at AMI?s PVC Formulation 2012 conference to debate the market trends and the latest recipes to improve the environmental performance of vinyl compounds. There are alternative plasticisers from bio-sources and new stabilisers to replace heavy metal materials. As any compounder knows, replacing one ingredient means adjusting the whole balance. Another issue is the supply chain for new materials and it is important to ensure sustainability of supply before embarking on global reformulation. VinylPlus is driving many of the environmental initiatives in Europe and reported that in the 27 EU countries around 1 mln tons of post-consumer PVC have been recycled, cadmium stabilisers have been phased out and lead stabilisers are scheduled for complete substitution by 2015. In addition more than 80% of plasticisers are now unclassified high molecular weight phthalates thus addressing many of the concerns that have affected the industry. PVCPlus is campaigning to improve the image of soft PVC.
The sustainable options for PVC are ethylene feedstocks from bio-sources combined with bio-based plasticisers, impact modifiers and other additives, PolyOne is working on new products and Roger Avakian the Vice-President of Scientific Development has focused on PVC additives. Demands are complex, for example plasticisers are required with low temperature flexibility and high temperature stability. The company has a new bio-based high solvating plasticiser, trade name reFlex 100: the feedstock was developed in cooperation with Archer Daniels Midland and the technology was licensed from Battelle. It can be used to replace butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) and is being produced on a commercial scale. As a co-plasticiser it is claimed to reduce the gelation and fusion time and to improve heat stability. It has been tested to the USDA Biopreferred standard and contains 94% renewable carbon. Segetis is liaising with Arkema to develop another bio-based plasticiser. Segetis has technology to convert cellulosics and sugar to levulinic acid and L-ketals, which can be used to make polyols, polymers and plasticisers. The latter have been tested in flexible PVC and as a co-plasticiser in plastisols. Varteco is also in this marketplace, V-Ziclus is a general purpose plasticiser and offers potential cost reduction of 3-16% compared to DINP. The feedstock is soybean oil, which is generated as a side-product from manufacturing soybean meal as high protein animal feed. In 2010 Argentina exported 4.4 M tons of this oil and the figure for 2011 is expected to be 5.3 Mtonnes. The use of ESBO plasticisers is very common in Argentina due to availability and prices. The Catalan Plastic Centre has carried out a series of tests to assess the potential for replacing DOP. The new plasticiser has been tested in commercial resins and Solvay Indupa has compared V-Ziclus with DINP in commercial formulations. Soya bean oil has been used for decades as an internal lubricant in PVC processing. Clariant Produkte (Deutschland) has developed a new soya bean wax (SBW) by enlarging the molecular weight, and removing double bonds and the high volatility component. SBW shows high performance in both internal and external lubricant behaviour in PVC. It has been tested in film and profile formulations. There are new plasticisers available as dibenzoate blends from Emerald Kalama Chemical. These are high solvators (similar to phthalate performance), compatible, with good fusion characteristics and resistance to oil and solvent extraction. In plastisols the X-20 blend offers good viscosity and very good solvation. Many PVC products are made white using different grades of titanium dioxide, either the rutile or anatase form. These have different undertone variations from bluish to transparent in the ultrafine form, and properties like hydrophobic/hydrophilic, and weatherability. Sachtleben Chemie has studied the effects of using different grades produced using different methods on the performance of PVC compounds. Impurities like iron, chromium and copper lead to yellowing. The ultrafine grades are transparent, block UV and are resistant to weathering. The crystal lattice can be doped with aluminium, zinc or antimony to increase weather resistance by reducing charge mobility. BASF has also examined colour issues in PVC looking at quality and long-term colour retention. The common problems are fading, chalking, darkening and milkiness, which are not necessarily due to the colorant, but due to the wrong combination of additives in the formulation, like using a low performance shading component with a high performance pigment. There are standards, such as ISO 4892-2 Xenon arc lamp and ASTM G 154, which can be used to test the weathering of different formulations. Microbes can affect the coloration of plastics, for example microbial metabolites can cause a pink staining in flexible vinyl sheet. Lonza (formerly Arch Biocides) supplies antimicrobial additives which help to combat this and also contribute to hygiene on polymer surfaces, which is very important in the healthcare and sports sector to combat pathogens like MRSA. The additive must be selected with the right spectrum of activity and cost-effective performance. It is important to get the formulation right, because antimicrobials can accelerate yellowing and be affected by UV light. Lonza offers zinc 2-pyridinethiol-1-oxide (ZPT, zinc OMADINE) and the more UV resistant n-butyl 1,2-benzisothiazolin-3-one (BBIT, Vanquish 100).
PVC stabilisers have been affected by changes to regulations and the move from the use of very effective lead-based compounds. Galata Chemicals produces several types of stabiliser including tin, mixed metal and OBS. It has conducted research on optimal formulation including OBS technology for flexible and plastisol applications. Chemson is looking at the use of heavy-metal free OBS stabilisers in Group 1 building applications, which require low VOC, high flame retardancy, high stiffness, high impact resistance, low water absorption and low plate-out during flow. The ?green? credentials of PVC improve with the use of OBS: the uracil backbone is derived as a by-product of caffeine separation from coffee beans and the stearate component is derived from palm oil, while the manufacturing is a ?cold? process. The OBS stabilisers have been tested in oriented-PVC pipes and in Dincel PVC walls in Australia. Rigid PVC foam is extruded by three primary methods: free-foaming expansion on leaving the die; inward foaming (Celuka) and coextrusion (skin-core). Formulation affects the melt strength, elasticity, viscosity and solubility of the blowing agent, which all affect cell nucleation, density and growth. Dow Chemical is developing processing aids to maximise nucleation and fast stabilise cells, to give foams with small cells and high cell density. SureCel is a high molecular weight acrylic polymer processing aid, which gives faster gelation time due to greater miscibility with PVC. Reagens has worked on new stabilisation systems and foaming of PVC sheets and profiles. The material must undergo fast fusion in the extruder to activate the blowing agent, have high melt elasticity for good cell structure, and have good long-run properties with minimal plate-out. The base formulation is S-PVC k57-62, high molecular weight processing aid, stearate-coated filler, stabiliser and blowing agent. The common blowing agent is azodicarbonamide (AZDC) and the Celuka process uses this in combination with sodium bicarbonate. Foam formulation with the new calcium, organic stabilisers is complex.
A state-of-the-art Lexan* multiwall sheet production line will be unveiled at SABIC IP?s Vadodara, India manufacturing facility. SABIC?s Innovative Plastics business is once again demonstrating how it is powering the long-term commercial success of its customers with the announcement of a capacity investment in India to provide customers in the country and the greater Asia with a fast, reliable source of these high-performance materials. This new line will help meet rising customer demand in the region for SABIC?s high performance Lexan Thermoclear* multiwall polycarbonate (PC) sheet products used for roofing and glazing in the building and construction and greenhouse sectors. SABIC?s Innovative Plastics business is once again demonstrating how it is powering the long-term commercial success of its customers with the announcement of a capacity investment in India.
?The new Lexan Thermoclear sheet line showcases how SABIC delivers its broad portfolio to virtually all regions of the world so customers can benefit from faster lead times and expanded supplies to support commercial and residential construction projects,? said Sanjiv Vasudeva, South Asia Sheet and Film Business leader, Innovative Plastics. ?The high performance, beautiful aesthetics and design freedoms provided by Lexan multiwall sheet have been demonstrated around the world in major structures ? from stadiums to rail stations ? and showcase how SABIC continues to passionately challenge the status quo to find better ways to serve its customers.?
India?s vibrant economy is achieving 7 to 9% growth per year1, driven by extensive infrastructure investment and development, especially in the commercial and industrial roofing sectors ? such as airports, rail stations, metro rail, bus stations, malls and hospitals. The new line at Vadodara is an outgrowth of SABIC?s culture of ingenuity and will produce high-quality two-sided ultraviolet (UV)-protected Lexan Thermoclear multiwall sheet in clear and custom colors targeting roofing, glazing and cladding applications. The multiwall sheet products are versatile thermoplastic glazing materials that have been used in roofing, cladding and glazing for more than 30 years. Lexan Thermoclear sheet is significantly lighter in weight than glass while offering high stiffness and more than 250 times the impact resistance of glass to reduce the risk of breakage from wind, hail, and other extreme weather, as well as vandalism.
The progress of various schemes of the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers for petrochemicals, including its flagship Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs), considerably slowed in the 11th Plan (2007-12). In its report to the government on the sector, the Planning Commission says the pace of investments has been much below expectation as has emerged in its discussion with state governments, the Department of Petrochemicals and the industry, as per Business Standard.
The primary reason for the slowdown in PCPIRs is the various private and public sector undertakings, which are acting as anchor tenants that have officially ?put on hold? their proposed investment decisions, according to the ministry. On the other hand, state governments are of the view that the proposed Budgetary support from the central government has been inadequate for developing the infrastructure in PCPIRs. Also, the plastic park scheme announced by the ministry never took off with vigour. The objective of the policy, announced in 2010, was to encourage the competitiveness of the plastic industry by upgrading the quality of the product to meet the end-use of domestic industries and exports. However, the high cost of centralised effluent treatment and the negative image of plastic as a major environmental pollutant has hindered major investment and participation in the scheme, said the report.
At first, in 2006-07, six states gave proposals for PCPIR. Of these, three ? Gujarat, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh ?were approved in 2009. The various anch-or tenants for the PCPIRs are ONGC Petro Additions Ltd (OPAL), GAIL and Gujarat State Petro-leum Corporation (GSPC) for Bharuch, Gujarat; Indian Oil Corporation and CALS Refinery by Spice Energy for Haldia, West Bengal; Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd and GMR Consortium for Visakhapat-nam, Andhra Pradesh, and Indian Oil Corporation for Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur in Orissa. Karnataka government has decided to shelve the proposal altogether. Till date, committed investments in all these Cabinet-cleared projects have barely reached 50 per cent of the proposed investment. The Gujarat PCPIR has a committed investment of Rs 22,930 crore (as against proposed investment of Rs 50,000 crore). While the Haldia IOC-promoted PCPIR received investment to the tune of Rs 48,180 crore (Rs 93,180 crore), the Visakhapatnam projects committed funds worth Rs 1,74,654 crore (Rs 3,43,000 crore). The Haldia projects, though cleared in 2009, are yet to decide as to whether they are part of the West Bengal government?s PCPIR, which will determine the state government?s cooperation in the project. Officials said the ministry aimed at creating a window for the government funding support and had proposed this to the Planning Commission. It is evaluating the scope of budgetary funding in these projects, apart from the specified mode of viability gap funding (VGF) and through public-private partnership (PPP). Under the extant project guidelines, there is no budgetary support and the entire funding is to be done by the participants, which includes a government petrochemical public sector undertaking as anchor investor. The VGF scheme provides financial support in the form of grants, one-time or deferred, to infrastructure projects undertaken through PPPs.
Polyplex Corp Ltd. (PPC), Indian manufacturer of polyester film plans to build a US$150 mln plastics plant in Turkey and plans another investment of US$500 mln within 5-8 years to produce 600,000 tpa feedstock polyethylene terephthalate, as per Bloomberg. The plant will have exports of US$1 billion a year, Kapil Gupta, senior vice president for the company and will start operations within two to three years. Feedstock for PET will be purchased from local suppliers such as Petkim Petrokimya Holding AS (PETKM). Polyplex will start the construction of the plant in the Corlu tax-free zone, to the west of Istanbul, in H2-2012.
Polyplex is considering a joint venture with a Turkish or international partner for the additional investment at the site, Gupta said. ?We are focusing first on PET resin investment and then will consider a resin raw material plant in 5 to 8 years with a partner,? he said. Ilker Ayci, head of the investment agency, said Polyplex investment will help Turkey increase its foreign direct investment this year from 2011?s $16 billion. ?We may even break the 2007 record of $22 billion this year or next,? Ayci said.
There is a growing importance and criticality to the oil and gas production industry of applications that use polymeric materials. Current issues include: exposure to supercritical CO2, operating in extreme environments (arctic conditions, HPHT, sour fluids), the increasing use of composite materials, development of new materials, qualification testing, long-term reliability and the establishment of global standards. AMI and the Materials Engineering Research Laboratory (MERL) are bringing operators, contractors, the supply chain and experts in qualification and test development together to discuss the issues at the global conference MERL Oilfield Engineering with Polymers 2012, which will take in October in London. Petrobras will open with a review from the operator?s perspective and Baker Hughes will give the supplier?s perspective.
There is extensive co-operative learning and development between operators, the supply chain and researchers to enable cost-effective oilfield development in extreme conditions. Many elastomer materials are employed in very sensitive components in oilfield engineering. ConocoPhilllips is engaged in elastomer research looking at the effects of amine chemicals and James Walker is testing materials for hydrogen sulfide resistance. The performance of new grades of fluoro elastomers in explosive decompression is the topic of research of DuPont. New seal materials have been investigated for downhole service by Baker Hughes. On the certification side, DNV has new qualification standards for Tyrihans seals.
The industry challenge is to operate safely and reliably in increasingly remote and hostile environments. Statoil has been examining polymer material performance in the arctic extremes. At the other end of the scale, Schlumberger has investigated composites for 250C reservoirs, and Hoerbiger Corporation is testing melt molded thermoplastic devices aiming to get consistent performance in thermally demanding and chemically corrosive service environments.
Polymers are commonly used to protect metallic pipes from corrosion and Swagelining has been investigating the potential of engineering plastics with suppliers Evonik, Solvay Specialty Polymers and Victrex. In turn, Evonik and Wellstream have been testing polyamides for compatibility and ageing on exposure to sea water, crude oil and supercritical CO2. In Norway, Bredero Shaw has worked in conjunction with Statoil and Borealis to examine the ageing performance of polypropylene foam insulation after 20 years of subsea exposure. TOTAL and IFREMER have run accelerated ageing tests on polyurethane coated pipe field joints to gather data for lifetime prediction. Composite, reinforced plastic pipes are increasingly being used in oilfield applications: Soluforce Pipelife has worked to improve performance combining traditional textile fibre processing and pipe extrusion technologies. Flexible pipes are also under investigation: Technip is looking at a new anti-hydrogen sulfide polymer layer and SINTEF is testing the effect of methanol on PA11 hydrolysis in risers. In Brazil, GE Oil and Gas is evaluating polymers as pressure barriers for flexible pipes in severe conditions. Research and development, design, qualification and operational experience are all key to reliable predictions of material performance. The Oil States Industries (OSI) and Shell have been working on design methods for failure prediction in composite elastomer bearings and Greene Tweed has been looking at polymer behaviour in HPHT conditions. The CEO of MERL, Rod Martin, will give the closing address, with a review of developments in materials and functional evaluation of polymers for the new industry operating conditions. The research in this field is advancing fast to avoid expensive incidents and ensure safe production of oil and gas in extreme environments.