Renewables and regulations in the PVC industry

The PVC compounding industry has been shaken up in recent years by changes in chemical regulations that have removed some traditional additives from the marketplace and put new emphasis on renewable aspects including bio-based plasticisers and recycling.  There have been many voluntary agreements within the PVC associations to make advances ahead of any legal requirement and this has made them a leader in areas like recycling.  This year in Europe there will be more changes in recipes as standard biocides used in protecting many outdoor applications such as waterproof covers will have to be replaced with alternatives.  There are also discussions as to whether some bio-based ingredients require a biocide to prevent degradation. 

Applied Market Information (AMI) has organised a forum to discuss the changes at the 5th international compounding conference PVC Formulation 2013, held from 12th-14th March 2013 in Dusseldorf, Germany.  This event brings together the global vinyl industry to review new PVC additives, recipes, technology, legislation and market drivers. Vinnolit has presented a review of the PVC market in Europe, followed by a look at the PVC market in the growing Turkish economy by Mr. Ali Murat Ayar.

The profile producer Deceuninck gave a keynote paper on the advances in responsible action on the theme reduce, reuse and recover.  Reagens is part of a group aiming for the sustainable use of additives and the CEO Dr Ettore Nanni will outline this project.  The European Union has legislated against the use of heavy metals and this has affected PVC stabilization with moves away from very effective lead formulation in profiles, to new products such as Ca/Zn.  Baerlocher is showing stabilization systems in the construction industry. Naturally occurring minerals are useful not only as fillers but also as active ingredients like flame retardants and this will be demonstrated by Minelco.  Phosphate esters have flame retardant effects and plasticising properties: Lanxess points to the effect of these additives on PVC compound properties in combination with antimony trioxide, zinc borate and fillers.

The status of the current plasticisers market will be presented by the European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates (ECPI).  There is a growing trend in the plastics industry for bio-based and natural materials. In the PVC industry this is mainly seen in the bio-based plasticisers.  In the US this gives a high percentage of renewable carbon for the USDA Biopreferred programme.  The South Americans have vast land areas for crop development and have taken a lead in supplying bio-plasticisers.  Varteco Quimica Iberica from Argentina will give an overview of this market, while PETROM – Petroquimica Mogi Das Cruzes of Brazil with its partner Proviron Functional Chemicals will show some of the new plasticisers. Hallstar has also developed natural products for this market. However, what are the effects on the rest of the recipe of this substitution?  Are these materials so biodegradable that they need microbicides to preserve the vinyl?  

The EU Biocides Directive is going to affect a commonly used ingredient: OBPA antimicrobials which are widely used in outdoor applications as a preservative will be banned. Akcros Chemicals will review the changes and the alternative formulations, and some of the provisional data on the potential need for biocides when using bio-sourced ingredients.  From Switzerland, Sanitized has studied antimicrobial protection for PVC with bio-based plasticisers.

PVC is widely used in food packaging particularly as film, and a producer and expert service provider Polycomply Hoechst will review the current standards.  From the flooring manufacturer’s viewpoint, James Halstead/Polyflor will outline the industry requirements. 

Many factors affect PVC compounding: Chemson will examine the effect and regulation of humidity. Impact strength alongside thermal stability will be the topic of Dow. Foaming is a growing technology to reduce material use and weight: Kaneka Belgium is looking at more foam with less additives.  Processing aids like PE waxes will be discussed by BASF.  Product appeal is enhanced with a good colour range and Holland Colours specialises in the PVC area.

What are the alternative additives for formulations?  What are the requirements of end-users? Are there improvements in PVC processing? How are PVC markets developing?  Is it feasible to incorporate recyclate?  These are some of the debating points at PVC Formulation 2013 conference.

Irrigation practices and water savings

Overhaul of agricultural water supply could save 17 thousand million EUR in Italy alone over a 30 year period, according to recent study sponsored by Borealis together with a group of leading companies. Investments, innovation and improved water management policies in agriculture are the major recommendations from the study “Water management policies in agriculture” carried out by Althesys Strategic Consultants.
Findings were presented recently at a conference held in Rome, Italy which brought together high-anking stakeholders triggering important discussions and resulting in a commitment to cooperate on an action plan to work towards the study‟s recommendations. The research was developed through the analysis of practices in four critical areas: irrigation methods (drip irrigation and micro irrigation versus standard sprinkler systems), management models (information services for farmers), new technologies (automated delivery systems) and the water intake and distribution grids (replacement of open-air irrigation channels with conduits and repairing the existing ones).

According to Professor Alessandro Marangoni, an economist and expert in the energy and environment sectors, the use of drip irrigation and/or micro-aspersion in place of the current aspersion technique could achieve a net benefit between EUR 2.9 and 4.3 billion over the next three decades. Within the agricultural water supply grid, substitution of furrow irrigation with open channels would already yield estimated benefits of between EUR 4 and 8.1 billion. Furrow irrigation is widespread in farming across southern Europe as well as throughout Asia, but leads to substantial water loss through evaporation and infiltration.

LyondellBasell Expands PP Plant in Italy

image_thumbLyondellBasell plans to extend production and technology capabilities at its Spherizone PP process technology plant in Brindisi, Italy. Scheduled for completion in 2012, an upgraded process design and capacity expansion will include the use of additional co-monomers such as hexene to manufacture products with the properties required by pipe, sophisticated film and healthcare applications. Plant capacity is expected to be increased by 50 KT, extending total capacity to 235 KT per year. 
LyondellBasell’s Spherizone process manufactures PP with selectively adjusted, multi-modal molecular weight distribution through the use of a multizone reactor. For pipe, the new grades should offer improved expanded creep characteristics and excellent processability compared to current grades. In specialty film and injection-molded applications, the products should address customer needs for improved toughness, flexibility and higher melt strength.

PVC pipe extrusion in Brazil

Corr Plastik (Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil) boosted the production of PVC pipes to 6 000 tonnes a month with a factory with a new factory in the north east of the country. The extrusion lines for the new plant were supplied by KraussMaffei Berstorff (Munich, Germany)

Continue reading

New SWL machine for electrofusion fittings

image MSA Engineering Systems Limited (UK) has developed a brand new SWL (saddle wire laying) machine for laying wire directly into the curved face of a saddle fitting. The electrofusion fittings used to join thermoplastic pipes as typically used in the gas, water and petrochemical industries.

Continue reading

Energy saving in profile extrusion

image Together with the Greiner Competence Center (GCC), the Greiner Tool.Tec subsidiaries Greiner Extrusion and Gruber Extrusion have developed the “Vacuum Energy Saving System“. The innovation cuts energy costs for plastics profile extrusion in half by using speed-controlled vacuum pumps. The “Vacuum Energy Saving System“ is integrated in the calibration table. “The combination and the special design permit better efficiency for dry calibration and for vacuum cooling tanks“, Leo Weiermayer, CTO of Greiner Tool.Tec, explains. The project is in the implementation phase.

Continue reading

Plastics industry expects the upturn in the construction sector

Few customer industries have been hit as heavily by the 2009 economic crisis as the construction sector. Sales of pipes, profiles and boards have fallen dramatically. Not only manufacturers of semi-finished products, but also plastics processers and machine manufacturers have experienced a significant drop in business. By the time of K 2010, the world’s leading trade fair for the plastics industry taking place in Düsseldorf from 27 October to 3 November, manufacturers of pipes, profiles, boards and insulating materials are hoping for a revival of business.

Continue reading