Polymer Foam conference

imageThe next AMI Polymer Foam 2015 international conference features top foam producers and experts from around the world and takes place from 2-4 November in Cologne, Germany. The use of foam technology is growing rapidly across all fields of plastics processing and Professor Volker Altstaedt will review the state of the art in thermoplastic foam production to kick off the conference.  The major applications of foam include construction from wall panels to pipes and flooring; furnishing; automotive components; marine and wind blade composite structures (where the foam is provided by expert companies such as 3A Composites/Airex); and protective packaging.

Polymer foams provide beneficial properties such as heat and sound insulation: Armacell and Techno Nicol are leaders in the field of construction foams, while BASF Polyurethanes has a new high performance insulation board material.   There are other advantages of foams such as cushioning and impact resistance, weight reduction and cost reduction due to reduced material usage.  Foams can be manufactured on many different types of equipment from extruders to injection moulding machines and steam chest moulding, and techniques vary from structural foam moulding to bead processing and sheet extrusion.

In the automotive foam arena Valeo Thermal Systems has used foaming for cycle time reduction and lightweighting. Meanwhile Faurecia Interior Systems has worked on optimizing the morphology of a stiff hybrid injected foam insulator.  There has been an ongoing research project between automotive companies and Mecaplast, which has focused on foaming visible parts.

There are innovations in materials for foams, which yield better properties for improved cellular structure. In terms of polyolefins, SINOPEC in China has produced a copolymer for use in expanded PE beads and Total in Belgium has new high melt strength LDPE for performance foams.  Foam recycling is becoming established too with companies like Schmitz Holding taking on postindustrial XPE scrap.

There is a lot of interest in making packaging from bio-based and biodegradable materials.  Inde Plastik Betriebs has produced foam trays from modified cellulose acetate and Macro Engineering has carried out studies to optimise the equipment required for tandem extrusion of heat resistant PLA foam for hot-fill packaging.

In addition, there are developments in chemical blowing agents and nucleating agents, with some ideas for the replacement of azodicarbonamide including some endothermic chemical agents from Reedy Chemical Foam & Specialty Additives. At AMI’s Polymer Foam 2015 Clariant Masterbatch will review the current status of chemical blowing agents and nucleating agents in the polymer industry and Imerys will highlight a new nucleating agent.

On the polystyrene foam front, Dow has developed a low density microcellular PS foam.   PS beads are commonly made with a pentane blowing agent and now there are alternatives, with a better environmental footprint.  For example, SABIC has obtained good results in foaming PS using water. 

Control of foam structure determines the properties and quality of the resulting products. Professor Perez at the Cellular Materials Laboratory has studied how to improve performance by creating nanoscale cellular structures. The twin-screw extruder supplier Coperion has developed technology for both physical and chemical foam methods of manufacturing and Promix Solutions focuses on the overall control of the foam process.

Fr more information on the AMI Polymer Foam 2015 international conference, click HERE.

Insecticide substances in foamed plastics

imageThe Plastics Technology Centre AIMPLAS, Inesfly Corporation from Valencia and the University of Zaragoza are researching in order to be able to encapsulate insecticide substances in foamed plastic materials. The innovative material will allow the manufacture of soles of sandals and mats that repel insects that transmit diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.

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airpop – a new name for EPS

Expanded Polystyrene has had many names in Europe: Styropor, PSE, Piepschuim or Polyfoam – to name just a few. We have now put an end to this variety. EUMEPS Construction proudly introduces a common European name for EPS: airpop® engineered air.
Why give a new name to an internationally established material like EPS? Simply because the name airpop immediately brings to mind what the material is made of: air. A lot of air. 98 % air, to be precise. Just a tiny fraction is made of synthetic material, which expands to 50 times its own volume. airpop® easily provides sustainable and affordable construction and insulation by keeping material costs, weight, CO2 emissions and heating costs low.

The airpop®-campaign is a joint industry initiative of EUMEPS, of European airpop®-converters, of their respective National EPS Associations and of European EPS raw material producers. The creative concept was developed by the communication agency Ogilvy & Mather, Frankfurt / Germany.
airpop® represents an industry of approx. 600 mainly small and medium sized converters in Europe. They process about 1.300.000 tons of raw material into airpop® products. The main applications are building and construction as well as packaging parts.

imageThe airpop®-campaign is a joint industry initiative of EUMEPS, of European airpop®-converters, of their respective National EPS Associations and of European EPS raw material producers. The creative concept was developed by the communication agency Ogilvy & Mather, Frankfurt / Germany.
airpop® represents an industry of approx. 600 mainly small and medium sized converters in Europe. They process about 1.300.000 tons of raw material into airpop® products. The main applications are building and construction as well as packaging parts. For more information about airpop®, click the logo.

Polyurethane insolation inovations at UTECH Europe

Energy-saving thermal insulation to keep heat in buildings and maintain low temperatures in cold stores are among the many applications where polyurethanes play a vital role in construction and temperature control. The latest innovations in the formulation and manufacture of polyurethanes for increased thermal performance and enhanced fire retardance will be unveiled at the triennial UTECH Europe conference and exhibition, taking place at the MECC in Maastricht, The Netherlands from 14 to 16 April 2015.

Featuring over 90 detailed technical papers delivered in a total of 11 sessions, the UTECH Europe conference will cover the latest developments in the world of polyurethanes and reveal unique insights into the global market. The afternoon of Day Two of the conference (15 April) features a session of 11 papers dedicated to innovations in the use and manufacture of polyurethanes in rigid foams with speakers from Dow Polyurethanes, DuPont, Bayer MaterialScience, Momentive, Air Products, ICL-IP, Foam Supplies Inc, BASF, Honeywell and Lambiotte.

Giuseppe Vairo, from Dow, will present an Overview on Latest Fire Reaction Technologies for Polyurethanes in Construction. Dow has developed in an innovative panel concept, providing produce Insulated Metal Panels (IMP) manufacturers with a step-change fire reaction performance that will allow a broader use of Polyurethane (PUR) and Polyisocyanurate (PIR) cored panels to the highest fire safety standards.

imageMarc Fricke, from BASF, will deliver a paper introducing the company’s SLENTITE – a new high performance insulation material for climate management applications. It is a novel type of organic aerogel based on polyurethane chemistry. Aerogels are highly porous materials consisting of up to 90% in their volume of air-filled pores. The exceptional insulation performance is made possible by optimized pore size in the nanometre range. The new material is said to offer a 25-50 per cent slimmer insulation compared to conventional products.

David Williams, Director of Technology at Honeywell will cover Energy and Environmental Benefits in the Cold Chain Sector Through the Adoption of High Performance LGWP Blowing Agent Solstice Liquid Blowing Agent. Solstice LBA is being adopted by residential and commercial appliance manufacturers worldwide, including Whirlpool, Haier and Midea, and spray foam and panel construction insulation companies like LaPolla, Kingspan, and SoflanWiz, to reduce their environmental footprint and comply with environmental and energy efficiency regulations.
 
The UTECH Exhibition

At the UTECH Europe exhibition, more than 190 companies will be showcasing their latest offerings for the polyurethanes industry. Dow Polyurethanes will feature a halogen-free flame retardant VORATHERMTM CN 100 Series PIR technology for construction insulated metal panels that enables B-s1,d0 Top Euroclass fire reaction performance. Its PASCALTM PRO technology will also be on show and delivers a breakthrough in energy efficiency and productivity for the professional cold chain industry and cold storage panel manufacture. It will also profile its VORAFORCETM systems for composites manufactured by pultrusion or filament winding and used in construction and infrastructure applications.
 
ICL-IP is introducing a new reactive all phosphorus technology that incorporates fire resistance into the polymer matrix of rigid polyurethane thermal insulation materials.
 
INVISTA will be showcasing innovations that include both TERATE® HT polyols — a family of robust, high-performing aromatic polyester polyols for use in rigid insulation foam.

For more informationon UTECH Europe or to register in advance for the free entry to the exhibition, click HERE.

Foamed PP for food packaging

EDV Packaging (Barcelona, Spain) and Mucell Extrusion have signed an exclusive license agreement to produce foamed polypropylene barrier sheets for food packaging within Europe. The licensed microcellular foaming technology is the result of extensive development work that gathers more than 30 patents from Mucell Extrusion, M.I.T. (Masschussets Institute of Technology) and The Dow Chemical Company. image_thumb[1]

This agreement, combined with its own coextrusion capacity, will allow EDV Packaging to launch a new range of foamed polypropylene sheets with EVOH (barrier material). These materials will make a difference in reducing packaging weight and therefore environmental impact, thanks also to the enhanced mechanical properties when compared to other foamed materials. The new range of barrier sheets will be commercially available by the second half of 2012.

BASF increases capacity for EPS

image[7]BASF plans to increase the production capacity of its insulation material Neopor® (EPS, expandable polystyrene) in stages at its Ludwigshafen site by around 60,000 metric tons per year from December 2011 and is set to achieve full capacity by October 2013 at the latest. The gray Neopor is an advanced version of Styropor®. It gets its color and unique performance by the addition of graphite particles – Neopor offers an improved insulating performance of up to 20% over the white EPS insulating material.

The increased capacity will be achieved by expanding existing production plants; this is the second increase in Neopor capacity at the Ludwigshafen site within three years. In 1998, BASF was the first EPS manufacturer to include a gray insulating material in its portfolio. The international trend towards highly efficient insulating materials, particularly for use in external envelopes, continues apace. Thermal insulation is demonstrably a major factor in reducing CO2 emissions, which has meant that in recent years energy-saving regulations have become increasingly stringent globally. Neopor is used both in new and in renovated buildings and so makes a significant contribution towards climate protection. In Germany, around 30% of all EPS-based insulating materials are used in new buildings, with 70% going into the renovation of older buildings. This is set to rise to 75% by 2012.

The gray plastic granular material Neopor is the advanced version of the insulation classic Styropor. It contains special graphite particles that reflect heat radiation like a mirror and so reduce heat loss in a house. The granular material is foamed by BASF’s customers and converted to insulating boards and molded parts for insulating facades, roofs and floors. Neopor insulating materials meet the standards for passive house construction and in warm climatic zones.

Enhanced PLA compounds

FKuR (Willich, Germany) and Synbra ( Etten-Leur, The Netherlands) announced a "second generation" PLA (lactic acid polymer) GMO free and heat resistant. The PLA polymerization takes place in Synbra’s new plant in Etten-Leur with a capacity of 5000 t/a. The lactide feedstock is produced in Purac’s fermentation process.
FKUR and Synbra are targeting at high temperature applications to date not accessible for bioplastics. By blending almost 100% pure PLLA with PDLA at high temperatures, a stereocomplex PLA (sc-PLA) can be formed with properties that excel the ones of the individual homopolymers. The melting temperature of the complex is around 220°C which is 50°C higher than that of conventional PLA.
FKuR Kunststoff GmbH produces and markets special, customized biopolymers under the brand names Bio-Flex® (polylactic acid/copolyester compound), Biograde® (celluloseester compound) and Fibrolon® (natural fibre reinforced polymers).
Synbra Technology bv in Etten-Leur, The Netherlands, is the in-house polymerisation and R&D facility ‘Technology & Innovation’ and the centre of excellence in materials and product development in the Synbra Group. Synbra has a leading position in Europe regarding Expandable Polystyrene (EPS) for Sustainable Insulation Systems and Industrial Products & Solutions for a wide diversity of markets. Synbra Holding achieves a turnover of € 300 Million with about 1400 employees in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Portugal.  A recent example of the Synbra group’s innovations is BioFoam®.