Gulf Plastics Newsletter Nov

Gulf Plastics
News and analysis for the region’s plastics convertors
November 2014 | Issue 3
X!3m2014 V
GCC convertors
come together
WELCOME
The GPCA PlastiCon event for the plastics conversion
community is being held in Dubai in January next year
JOHN BAKER ICIS, LONDON
lastics conversion in the GCC region comes
into focus once again in January 2015, as
GPCA organises the sixth in its annual series of
PlastiCon events. The conference, exhibition
and associated Plastics Excellence Awards 2015
presentation (see page 5 for details) takes place
in the Conrad Hotel in Dubai, on 11-12 January.
The conference for 2015 is being built around
the theme of the evolution of the GCC converting
sector and how it can prospect for new horizons.
Members of the plastics community meeting
in Dubai will get an up-to-date view on trends
and developments in the regional and global
plastics industry, including detailed information on resin demand, future growth, end-use
patterns and new investment opportunities.
The 2015 event builds on the success of
GPCA PlastiCon 2014, held in April this year,
P
which attracted over 350 industry attendees
from many local and international companies.
Then the focus was on the growth of the sector
and the key role of innovation.
GPCA PlastiCon 2015 will focus even more
on trends in innovation that will bring added
value to regional converters. It will showcase
the value regional producers bring to converters
and focus on core technical and commercial aspects of the conversion industry.
Topics to be discussed include:
■ Innovation in plastic resins and high-technology polymers
■ Trends in global converting technologies
■ International markets and associated price
developments
■ Market strength through joint developments
■ New investment opportunities.
Three keynote speakers have been lined up to
open the event. Ziad Al-Labban, CEO of
Sadara Chemical, will discuss
trends to watch in the plastics
industry. Abdullah Bin Saleh
Al-Suwailem, CEO, Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical, will
talk about new investment opportunities for plastic converters. And Mosaed Al-Ohali, executive
vice
president
polymers at SABIC, will discuss consumer driven growth.
The conference will be
opened by Abdulaziz Alhajri,
CEO of Borouge and chairman of the GPCA Plastics
Committee. ■
Dear Colleagues
Welcome to the third issue of Gulf Plastics,
published by GPCA to stimulate dialogue and
understanding between Gulf polymer producers
and plastics converters. Our aim for this
publication is to cover topics that will help
improve performance of the GCC region’s
plastics conversion industry.
The GCC conversion industry is making steady
progress, spurred on by a number of factors,
including: government promotion of the
downstream sector, growing local demand for
plastics parts and packaging, and the expansion of
polymer production capability in the region both in
terms of capacity and range of polymers produced.
In this issue of Gulf Plastics, we engage in
discussions with a range of converters and hear of
their optimism for growth and the advantages
associated with this upsurge. The converters are
targeting domestic and export markets, notably
developing ones in Asia and Africa.
We also cover what will happen in January
at GPCA’s 2015 PlastiCon event, and look at
next year’s Plastics Excellence Awards. We
also have an in-depth interview with the winner
of last year’s “Researcher of the Year
Category”, who talks us through the importance
of research in the development of the polymer
sector in the GCC region.
Another important issue for the GCC plastics
sector is plastics waste and recycling in
conjunction with the drive for adopting best
sustainability practices within the regional plastics
industry. As we report here, this year GPCA is
widening the scope of its Waste Free Environment
campaign on a global reach to include other parts
of the world in addition to the GCC states.
ABDULAZIZ ALHAJRI
Chairman, GPCA Plastic Committee/
CEO of Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge)
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
SABIC and hte sign MoU to speed R&D
Saudi Arabian masterbatch market grows
GPCA widens waste collection campaign
Polymer chiefs at Annual GPCA Forum
GPCA Gulf Plastics is online at: gpca.org.ae
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Interview – Dr Al-Maadeed on innovation
GCC converters eye near-term growth
IBM develops recyclable thermoset resins
Bayer MaterialScience boosts CO2 use
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Presented by
GPCA NEWS
SABIC/hte
speed R&D
By using high-throughput experimentation SABIC hopes
to accelerate catalysis and new product development
audi Arabia’s SABIC and hte in Heidelberg,
Germany, will establish a satellite laboratory for high-throughput experimentation to increase research and development (R&D) efficiency. hte is a leading high-throughput
experimentation company that provides a valuable upside to heterogeneous catalysis and enables fast track R&D.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
was signed in September by Dr Ernesto
Occhiello, executive vice president, Technology & Innovation, at SABIC, and Dr Wolfram
Stichert, CEO of hte.
Under the MoU, hte will provide a technology platform to support SABIC in R&D on
catalysis. This will include advanced testing
equipment, which will be hosted exclusively
at hte’s newly constructed laboratory building
in Heidelberg, Germany.
SABIC will benefit from a unique R&D
S
environment with dedicated high throughput
experimentation laboratories and specialised
personnel. hte’s offering encompasses additionally state-of-the-art workshops, infrastructure,
technology, service, and catalysis expertise.
The key principle of high throughput experimentation (HTE) is parallelisation that makes
performing hundreds of experiments under
varying industrially relevant conditions highly
economical. It decreases cost for development
of new catalysts and chemical processes considerably and ultimately their time-to-market.
Occhiello said the MoU is in line with
SABIC’s 2025 strategy for the growth of petrochemicals and meeting the future challenges of
R&D. “We are happy to continue our collaboration with hte which we consider a forefront
provider of modern R&D solutions and technology. An innovative partner like hte will...
enhance our innovation pace significantly.” ■
NATPET TO START UP
PP UNIT IN 2015
Saudi Arabia’s National Petrochemical
Industrial (NATPET) plans to start up its new
polypropylene (PP) compounding unit in Yanbu
by the second quarter of next year, a senior
company executive recently reported. “I think
you will see the plant coming onstream in
2015. Maybe the second quarter of 2015,”
said Jamal Malaikah, president and chief operating officer of NATPET. The company plans to
slowly expand the capacity to 100,000
tonnes/year but initially intends to start it up
with a lower capacity. US-based A Schulman is
50% equity partner in the joint venture for the
project with NATPET.
SAUDI ARAMCO BACKS
CONVERTER UNITS
Saudi Aramco is committed to growing downstream industries by supporting convertors in
Saudi Arabia with initiatives such as plastic
parks. “Saudi Arabia is committed to help
downstream industries. We understand the
importance of proximity to source and [helped
to form plastic parks],” Salem Subayee, director of chemicals, growth projects department
of Saudi Aramco. According to Salem, the
company will seek growth opportunities in
downstream markets with the start-up of the
Sadara petrochemical complex next year.
OMAN’S ORPIC TO USE
LYONDELLBASELL PP
Orpic will use LyondellBasell’s polypropylene
(PP) process technology at its plant in Sohar,
Oman. Orpic’s Liwa plastics project, which is
due to start up in 2018, will have a nameplate
capacity of 300,000 tonnes/year. “We selected the Spheripol process for its ability to
cost-effectively produce a wide range of highquality products that are demanded by our
customers throughout the Middle East and
Southeast Asia,” said Henk Pauw, general
manager at Orpic for the Liwa complex.
SABIC and hte celebrate the signing of the R&D MoU
Saudi masterbatch to grow
he polymers masterbatch market in Saudi
Arabia is projected to grow by 6.3%/year
in volume until 2019, according to a new
report “Saudi Arabia Masterbatch Market
Forecast & Opportunities, 2019”.
The market is dominated by white and
black masterbatches, says the report from
TechSci research. Growth in major end user
T
2 | GULF PLASTICS | November 2014
industries like packaging, automotive, appliances and textiles is expected to lead demand
growth for masterbatch in the country.
Packaging films are the fastest growing
segment for masterbatch consumption in
Saudi Arabia. Leading players in the Kingdom include Clariant, Astra Polymers, Ingenia Polymers, Delmon, Cabot and Energy a
Plastics Saudi Arabia.
With various leading global masterbatch
manufacturers setting up manufacturing
facilities in Saudi Arabia, spurred by government initiatives, the market is expected to
grow further in both value and volume terms
during the forecast period.
The country is expected to witness significant technological advancement with the
introduction of high-quality, standardised
masterbatches for use in construction, plastic,
fibre and agriculture industries. ■
www.gpca.org.ae
GPCA NEWS
GPCA’s WFE initiative
widens its reach
GPCA is extending the scope of its Waste Free Environment initiative,
with the aim of taking plastic waste collection global
PCA’s Waste Free Environment (WFE)
campaign is holding its third week of
action from 22-26 February 2015. Volunteers
across the GCC region, organised by GPCA
member companies, will turn out to collect
waste and litter from selected locations.
The campaign, launched in 2013, aims to
educate the public about responsible waste
disposal and address the challenges associated
with plastic litter. In an innovation for the next
phase in 2015, GPCA will no longer be limiting
G
Volunteers in the 2014 day of action
the campaign to the region and will open up
the initiative to other organisations across the
world, through the affiliate offices and subsidiaries of GPCA member companies.
“A sustainable future can only be realised if
people come together to find solutions to persistent environmental problems today,” says Dr
Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, secretary general,
GPCA. “Partnerships like the WFE – which involve government stakeholders, businesses,
educational institutions and the wider community – will be crucial in realising this future.”
GPCA announced the date for the 2015 initiative on World Maritime Day, a global initiative focused on the importance of the marine
environment. GPCA is a signatory of the United Nations “Declarations for Solutions on
Marine Litter”, and the WFE is a key component in its broader advocacy activities to encourage companies in the region to initiate
environmentally responsible operations.
WFE 2014 saw a growth in both plastics
waste collection and participation. Over
5,500 participants, more than double the
number in 2013, joined forces in nine cities
across the GCC region to clean up coastlines
and desert areas of their cities.
Volunteers included students from 71
schools and universities in the GCC. In total,
more than 11.7 tonnes of waste were collected
in a single day. Additionally, over 500 tonnes
of waste was collected over a week in three
locations in Oman, while the initiative’s United Arab Emirates programme recycled over
2.5 tonnes of waste.
“Education has been a key component in the
success of this campaign”, adds Al-Sadoun.
The initiative highlights the fact that plastic litter in the Gulf’s marine and desert environments is largely due to irresponsible disposal
of plastics waste combined with poor waste
management, a lack of regulatory framework
and insufficient recycling infrastructure.
“The Waste Free Environment programme
seeks not only to clean up public spaces, but
also to educate people about proper waste disposal and recycling,” explains Al-Sadoun.
For more information and to join Waste
Free Environment 2015, please visit http://
wastefreeenvironment.com/2014/ ■
Polymer chiefs to speak at Forum
ey executives from leading global polymer producers will give the GPCA
Annual Forum in Dubai on 23-25 November
insights into key industry trends. The twoday conference programme features presentations from Arab Gulf, US and EU producers,
as well as India’s leading petrochemical producer, Reliance Industries.
The 9th Annual GPCA Forum theme this
year is “The strategic direction of the industry
– what’s next?” Discussion will centre around
feedstocks and building blocks for the future,
innovation and sustainability.
The opening address will be made by
His Excellency Dr Mohammed Saleh Abdulla
Al-Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry for
Qatar. Co-keynote speakers are Khalid AlFalih, CEO of Saudi Aramco, and Andrew
K
www.gpca.org.ae
Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, both companies with extensive polymer interests.
They will be followed by Patrick Thomas,
CEO of Bayer MaterialScience, who will be
talking about facing today’s challenges
through innovation and sustainable solutions,
and Patrick Pouyanne, president of refining
and chemicals at Total, who will be discussing how feedstocks today lie at the core of a
competitive petrochemical strategy.
Other chemical industry speakers include
Nikhil Meswani, executive director of Reliance
Industries, Thomas Connelly, executive vice
president and chief innovation officer at DuPont, Peter Cella, CEO of Chevron Phillips
Chemical, Graham van’t Hoff, executive vice
president of Shell Chemicals, and Wayne
Smith, member of the BASF executive board. ■
Al-Sada of Qatar will make the opening
address at the Annual Forum in Dubai
November 2014 | GULF PLASTICS | 3
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NEW! SPECIAL STUDENT CATEGORY
FIKRA: RISING STARS OF PLASTICS
Are you a student enrolled at a GCC university who has an
innovative idea for plastics applications? Enter our special
category for students and showcase your idea to some of
the leaders in the industry!
www.gpcaplastics.com/2015/Awards or email [email protected]
GPCA INTERVIEW
Talent is
rewarded
Gulf Plastics talks to the winner of last year’s GPCA
Plastics Excellence Award for Talent in Plastics – Best
Researcher: Mariam Al-Maadeed of Qatar University
ncouraging and recognising talent and
innovation in the polymer sector is a key
aim of the annual GPCA Plastics Excellence
Awards. The accolade for best researcher was
awarded last year to Mariam Al-Ali AlMaadeed, director of the Center for Advanced
Materials at Qatar University.
Al-Maadeed joined the university in 2001,
after receiving her doctorate in materials science that year from Alexandria University in
Egypt. She works in the field of polymer
characterisation and structure as well as nanocomposites and nanotechnology techniques, and has been instrumental in developing new products from recycled
polyolefins reinforced with natural waste
from date palm fibres.
Commenting on her work at the Center for
Advanced Materials (CAM), she explains
that: “We aim to create bright and borderless
innovations in the field of materials science
and technology, to help build a sustainable
society in accordance with the Qatar National
Vision 2030.”
Qatar, she says, is one of the major producers of oil and gas and one of the most important
manufacturer of plastics in the world, notable
polyethylenes made by the likes of QAPCO
and Q-Chem. “Hence, study of polymer properties and characteristics is very important due
to its multiple applications for the industry.”
E
NANOTECHNOLOGY EXPERIENCE
CAM has long experience in the polymers
field, especially in modification of structure
by new nanotechnology tools. Improvement
in the physical and mechanical properties of
many polymers has been achieved and new
industrial applications introduced. Applications such as packaging, semi-structural polymers and sensors have been developed in the
centre, says Al-Maadeed.
“We aim to focus on the following areas:
polymer/composites characterisation, materials and nanomaterials, polymers blend and
recycling of polymers.”
CAM is funded by industry as well as govwww.gpca.org.ae
“Winning this prize is
something that I am proud of,
especially the fact that I was
competing with scholars
from different Gulf states”
MARIAM AL-ALI AL-MAADEED
Director, Center for Advanced Materials,
Qatar University
ernment. There are many ongoing projects
funded by the oil and gas industry as well as
downstream industry.
Says Al-Maadeed: “We are a large centre,
housing efficient and experienced staff in
multidisciplinary areas related to materials,
such as polymer, metals, building materials,
nanotechnology, energy storage and solar
cells. The centre has state-of-the art laboratories and many activities are conducted in our
labs related to research and training.”
CAM also offers knowledgeable assistance to
local oil, gas and processing industries, she explains, as well as to the learning community in
Qatar. It is collaborating with all colleges at
Qatar University and other universities in Qatar
as well as international academic institutes.
Al-Maadeed says she was elated to receive the award. “I felt my hard work presented good results. The judges gave me
good feedback about the strength of my research area which is needed in the Gulf, especially the work related to recycling and
natural fibre [date palm fibre] applications
to protect the environment.”
She comments that the GPCA award is a
well-recognised prize in the region “and winning this prize is something that I am proud of,
especially the fact that I was competing with
scholars from different Gulf states. The prize
showed society that women in the Gulf can lead
new research areas in science and technology.”
PROJECTS AND PAPERS
So what has happened since the award of the
prize in April last year at the GPCA plastics
conversion event PlastiCon? “During the past
few months”, she says, “I have discussed
many projects with local and international industrial partners. I’ve also published many
papers in international journals and filed two
patents. Also, I am still working on modifying
the polymers with the natural fibres using
new nanotechnology procedures.
“I’m pleased to count myself an enthusiastic supporter of environmental rights and implementation of material science for a cleaner
environment.” ■
PLASTICS EXCELLENCE AWARDS EXPAND FOR 2015
THE 2015 GPCA Plastics Excellence Awards will be presented on 11 January next year, as part of the
GPCA’s 6th PlastiCon conference. There are five categories open for entries: joint development of a
new product/application by a resin producer and plastic converter, joint improvement project by a
machinery maker and plastic converter, excellence in plastic products and processes, best sustainability in plastics conversion, and talent in plastics – best researcher.
For 2015, the Awards will also contain a new element: the Fikra, designed to reward the rising stars
of the plastics industry. Junior students from GCC regional universities and vocational institutes will be
able to present their innovative product and process improvement ideas to the plastics business community at the PlastiCon event. The idea is that the competition will act as an incubator for young talent,
giving winners an unmatched opportunity to showcase practical and conceptual products and discuss
their ideas for production and processes with key contacts in the GPCA community.
For details, go to: http://gpcaplastics.com/2015/awards/
November 2014 | GULF PLASTICS | 5
GPCA FEATURE
GCC converters eye
near-term growth
GCC plastics converters are confident they can expand
in coming years as local polymer production rises.
But finding suitable skilled employees and competing
with Asian converters remains a challenge
MUHAMAD FADHIL ICIS, DUBAI
P
Shutterstock
olymer convertors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are
hopeful of growth prospects in the
region in the near term due to an expected increase in consumption and strong
support from key stakeholders.
Plastic processors are expected to expand
through purchasing new equipment or hiring
more staff. They are willing to invest in such
new equipment as it typically offers state-ofthe-art technology and energy efficiency.
Although the outlay is huge initially,
converters are guaranteed smaller electricity bills and perhaps more streamlined processes. But a strong capital base is required
to fund such purchases.
Processors in Dubai are in the midst of conducting feasibility studies to weigh the potential of expansion. And there is little doubt
some will expand – they key is to find out
how to do it in the best possible way.
GCC convertors are mostly involved in the
manufacture of plastic finished products such
as food or flexible packaging or downstream
applications in fibres and automotive parts.
Such downstream sectors are expected to see
increased demand in the coming years ahead
of the World Expo in Dubai in 2020 and the
World Cup in Qatar in 2022.
Polyolefin demand, for instance, will likely
increase as more construction projects take off
in the two countries in the next three years.
DOMESTIC EXPANSION
GCC convertors are keen to work closely with
their regional counterparts in the Arabian
Gulf region and are likely to expand their operations within the six-nation bloc.
At the same time, entering new markets
will also be a key priority for plastic processors as they shift their export focus from
mature economies to developed or developing ones. Convertors know they cannot stay in
their comfort zone. They are facing much
stiffer competition so they are looking away
from their core markets.
With Europe seen largely as a mature market, processors will look to sell more of their
products to Africa and less established destinations in Asia. Demand in mature markets
is stagnating so there is not much incentive
to sell there.
According to industry estimates, polymer
demand growth in Africa is expected to be at
least 5% in 2014. Africa is becoming more
and more important as a region. Of course,
there are risks involved in doing business
there, like anywhere else in the world. But if
Polymer granules in demand - plastics converters are expecting an upturn in business
6 | GULF PLASTICS | November 2014
www.icis.com
GPCA FEATURE
The Sadara Chemical complex
under construction: it will have an
associated plastics processing park
companies get the right distribution channels,
they can do well in Africa.
In Asia, economies such as China, India,
Indonesia and Vietnam are expected to see
strong growth, and demand for finished products will be more and more robust.
Processors in the GCC may look away from
Europe and focus more into Asia in the coming years. Increased regulations in Europe
also make it more difficult for plastic convertors to sell their finished goods there.
For companies looking to sell into Europe,
they need to be very clear on what the regulations are, particularly for food packaging.
Europe is very stringent as a result of goverments responding to pressure resulting from
food scares.
PROTECTIONISM RISING
Protectionist measures against petrochemical
exports, such as the ones imposed on Saudi
Arabia, are increasingly becoming a major concern for the regional industry. Last year, the region saw an increase in antidumping measures from Europe against petrochemical
exports. The country has the largest conversion sector in the GCC region, so any protectionist move imposed on the industry will
likely affect its processors.
However, plastic convertors can look forward to increased support from key producers or government bodies. There is a renewed
push to develop the conversion industry in a
bid to diversify local economies and more
money is being pumped in to develop the
conversion industry not just in Saudi Arabia
but the rest of GCC. This will help boost employment and will make the region a key conversion hub.
For example, a plastic park, located next
to Sadara Chemical Co’s upcoming petrochemical complex in Jubail, is set to boost
www.icis.com
growth in downstream sectors. The close
proximity between the Plaschem Park and
Sadara complex will create a world-scale
manufacturing centre in Jubail, with more
value chain opportunities.
The Sadara project, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and US-based Dow
Chemical, consists of 26 world-scale manufacturing units. Sadara Chemical is widely
expected to start up its 1.5m tonne/year
mixed feed cracker in 2015 or early 2016.
Apart from Saudi Arabia, UAE’s Abu
Dhabi also plays host to a polymer park, as
part of the government’s efforts to develop
the conversion industry. The country will
welcome a new petrochemical complex operated by Borouge in 2014.
Derivative units include Borstar polyethylene (PE) units with a combined 1.08m tonne/
year capacity, two Borstar polypropylene
(PP) units with a combined capacity of
960,000 tonnes/year and a 350,000 tonne/
year low density PE (LDPE) unit.
Borouge 3 will raise the company’s olefins
and polyolefins capacity to around 4.5m
tonnes/year from 2m tonnes/year currently.
The company is a joint venture between
Austria’s Borealis and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC).
The Borouge 3 complex could encourage
more convertors to be based in the polymer
park in the UAE capital, to be closer to the
centre of the action.
The Sadara and Borouge 3 petrochemical
projects will boost capacity in the GCC in the
next few years. The GCC region will add 54m
tonnes/year of chemicals production capacity over the next five years, growing at an average of 7.3%/year.
Chemicals production capacity in the GCC
will grow from 129.2m tonnes/year in 2012
to 183.6m tonnes/year in 2017, according to
data from the Gulf Petrochemical and Chemicals Association (GPCA). The capacity growth
will likely see new entrants into the conversion industry but challenges remain for such
fresh players.
SKILLED LABOUR REQUIRED
Getting skilled labour is another key challenge for both new and established convertors. Most functions in the conversion process are machine or labour intensive, and
staff need to be trained properly.
Getting experienced staff is a major challenge. Even if skilled labour is available,
caps on foreign, cheap labour may prove to
be a stumbling block in the long run. Sometimes, the issue is not skilled labour but
rather strict restrictions on cheap manpower as GCC economies are now more strict
on such matters.
Increasing activity by emerging Asian
processors will also bring added competition to convertors in the GCC. Gulf region
producers will compete with other processors who are willing to lower costs of finished products due to more efficient frameworks. Hence, convertors acknowledge the
need to innovate, recognising it as a key to
their growth.
Producers and converters need to offer not
just value-add products but products which
can excite their customers. The key to this is
innovation. Not just as a concept but as a
practical choice.
Going forward, the region will need to
embrace manufacturing as a central economic driver, moving away from its core
focus in oil and gas.
Undeniably, oil and gas are important.
However, the downstream sectors cannot be
ignored as well because they bring about
growth and jobs for locals. ■
November 2014 | GULF PLASTICS | 7
GPCA NEWS
IBM thermoset resins
can be recycled
IBM has used the power of computation to accelerate the
development of a new class of recyclable thermosets
esearchers at IBM Research laboratories
in California have discovered a class of
thermoset materials that can be broken down
after use by acid treatment into the original
building blocks.
After the initial “accidental” discovery of
the polymerisation reaction, scientists from
IBM Research, in collaboration with researchers at University of California Berkeley, Eindhoven University of Technology and King
Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology
(KACST), combined high performance com-
R
“We’re now able to predict
how molecules will respond
to chemical reactions and
build new polymer structures
with significant guidance
from computation”
JAMES HEDRICK
Scientist, IBM Research
puting with synthetic polymer chemistry to
hone the materials’ properties.
The development of the materials has generated much interest, opening up as they do the
opportunity for recyclable materials for aerospace, automotive and electronic uses. IBM
says the experimental polymers could also deliver cheaper, lighter and stronger materials.
James Hedrick, advanced organic materials
scientist at IBM Research, commented: “We’re
now able to predict how molecules will respond to chemical reactions and build new polymer structures with significant guidance from
computation that facilitates accelerated materials discovery. This is unique to IBM and allows
us to address the complex needs of advanced
materials for applications in transportation,
microelectronic or advanced manufacturing.”
Details of the advance were published in May
in the journal Science. At the heart of the innovation is the use of a simple one-pot, low-temperature polycondensation reaction between
paraformaldehyde and 4,4-oxydianiline (ODA).
This forms hemiaminal dynamic covalent net-
works (HDCNs), which can further cyclise at
high temperatures, producing poly(hexahydrotriazine)s (PHTs).
Both materials are strong thermosetting polymers. By simply using different diamine monomers, says IBM, the HDCN- and PHT-forming
reactions lead to extremely versatile materials
platforms. For example, when poly(ethylene
glycol) (PEG) diamine monomers are used to
form HDCNs, elastic organogels can be formed
that exhibit self-healing properties.
“These new materials”, says IBM, “are the
first to demonstrate resistance to cracking,
strength higher than bone, the ability to reform to their original shape (self-heal), all
while being completely recyclable back to
their starting material. Also, these materials
can be transformed into new polymer structures to further bolster their strength by 50% making them ultra-strong and lightweight.”
The ability to selectively recycle a structural component, it adds, “would have significant impact in the semiconductor industry,
advanced manufacturing or advanced composites for transportation, as one would be
able to rework high-value but defective manufactured parts or chips instead of throwing
them away.” ■
Bayer boosts CO2 use in PUs
ayer MaterialScience’s Dream Polymers
research programme into the use of carbon dioxide as a new raw material for plastics
production is delivering success. The German
polymer producer is extending the range of
plastics that CO2 can be used to produce.
A technology using the greenhouse gas to
produce a key component for high-quality
polyurethane foam is already moving toward
commercial use. The proportion of petroleum
in this chemical is 80%.
“We have now succeeded in reducing the
petroleum content for making other plastics
further, to just 60%,” says project manager Dr
Christoph Gürtler.
Carbon dioxide is used twice in the new
process. First, the greenhouse gas is incorporated directly into a new kind of precursor
B
8 | GULF PLASTICS | November 2014
(polyoxymethylene polycarbonate polyol),
replacing 20% of the petroleum. Second, it is
also used indirectly, producing a chemical
that is also incorporated into the precursor for
a further 20% saving in petroleum.
“As a result, the proportion of alternative
PU foam made using CO2 as a feedstock
raw materials is already 40%,” remarks
Gürtler.
In addition to this, the number of plastics
that can be produced using carbon dioxide
is increasing. “It is now also possible to
manufacture thermoplastic polyurethanes,
films and casting elastomers in this way,”
says Gürtler.
Such plastics are used in all kinds of
applications, including automotive interiors, cable sheathing and sporting goods
such as ski boots.
The researchers have already proved in
laboratory tests that the manufacturing process works in principle. “Initial application
tests have been positive,” confirms Gürtler,
but he adds that there is some way to go before the process is commercially viable. ■
www.gpca.org.ae
Evolving GCC Conversion
Prospecting New Horizons
11 – 12 January, 2015 | Conrad Hotel, Dubai, UAE
Now in its sixth year, GPCA PlastiCon 2015 will provide an
up-to-date view on trends and developments in the regional
and global plastics industry, including detailed information on
resin demand, future growth, end use patterns and new
investment opportunities. The event is a unique platform for
converters and resin producers to exchange ideas for
growing the regional plastics conversion industry.
To register or find out more, please visit www.gpcaplastics.com
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