SPE Industry Update
Feb. 8, 2012

Plastic-eating fungus found in Ecuador rainforest
Care2.com
Researchers from Yale University traveled to Yasuni National Park in Ecuador's rainforest to look for fungi capable of eating polyurethane plastics, and they say they found more than one. Pestalotiopsis microspora is the fungus they showed to have the most ability to survive while consuming and degrading polyurethane in aerobic and anaerobic environments. Covered landfills can be oxygen-free or low oxygen environments, so one potential use of the fungus is to apply it to polyurethane in those environments for bioremediation.More

Hindering crack growth in natural rubber and nanocomposites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Rubber is a key component in tires, which must resist cracking on the many occasions they come into contact with sharp objects such as rocks and gravel. Nanodispersed clay can greatly improve crack growth resistance by enhancing tensile strength under static conditions and improving flex-fatigue properties under dynamic conditions. More

Polypyrrole/graphene oxide composites with improved conductivity and solubility
SPE Plastics Research Online
Conducting polymer matrices are an interesting and useful focus in the fields of polymeric reagent research and molecular engineering. Polypyrrole is attractive as an electrically conducting polymer because of its relative ease of synthesis. Doping polypyrrole with graphene oxide during polymer synthesis improves the water solubility and electrical conductivity of the nanocomposite. More

3 industries and 3 stocks riding the 2012 mergers and acquisitions boom
The Street
A hot start to deal-making in 2012 is helping to push up stock prices in biotech, chemicals and engineering sectors, and smart traders can ride the wave as prices push up on deal speculation. Overall, biotechnology is leading the way with $9.1 billion worth of announced mergers disclosed in 34 deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The chemicals industry has seen $4.5 billion in deal activity on 11 tie-ups, and the engineering sector has re-emerged as rife for consolidation.More

China to experience engineering plastics boom in next five years
China Economic Net
China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology explicitly mentioned engineering plastics as a key strategic emerging industry. In the next four or five years, demands for engineering plastics are expected to grow at a rate of more than 10 percent. Globally, 42 percent of engineering plastics are used in the automobile industry, whereas in China, that number is currently only around 10 percent. More

Dow Chemical earnings trail estimates after demand drops
Bloomberg
Dow Chemical Co., the largest U.S. chemical maker, posted fourth-quarter results that trailed analysts' estimates after falling demand for materials used in windmills and autos contributed to lower global sales volumes. A net loss of 2 cents a share compares with net income of 37 cents a year earlier, Michigan-based Dow said in a statement. More

Green matter: Bioplastics in the war on superbugs
Plastics Today
Microbes are highly creative, hardy little adapters when it comes to survival. Mutation, natural selection and genetic variation are all means which they employ to evolve and adapt to changing environmental conditions. In recent years, microbiologists have identified a growing number of new, antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that are causing worry and concern among health workers, not to mention the public at large. Amazingly, biopolymers — albeit very, very small ones — may offer a solution.More

Indian group, two US universities, to build plastics university
Plastics News
India's largest plastics trade association and two American universities with prominent plastics engineering and material science programs signed an agreement to help build an international-level university for polymers in western India. The agreement with the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and the University of Wisconsin is a step forward for the plans of the Mumbai-based Plastindia Foundation to build a university-level program educating several hundred engineers a year.More

Vehicle lightweighting coalition targets mixed use of plastics, aluminum, steel
Plastics Today
The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., has launched the Coalition of Automotive Lightweighting Materials to support efforts by auto manufacturers to aggressively down-weight vehicles to improve performance, fuel economy and safety. CALM is reportedly the first known organization of its kind to coalesce the strengths and knowledge of the aluminum and plastics/composites industries with technology providers in design and fabrication. More

Dynisco boosts profile in China with new acquisition
Canadian Plastics
In a bid to strengthen its position in China, extrusion sensor and control technology supplier Dynisco has purchased the assets of Shanghai Hao-Ying Measurement & Control Technology. Hao-Ying is described by Franklin, Mass.-based Dynisco as one of the top two Chinese producers of temperature sensors, melt-pressure transducers, transmitters and gauges, and other instrumentation used in plastics extrusion and related processes.More

Further boost to plastics recycling in United Kingdom
Recycling International
The United Kingdom's capability to recycle plastic packaging has been given a further funding injection. A £1.15 million ($1.8 million) loan from the Waste & Resources Action Programme will enable the ECO Plastics facility in Lincolnshire, England, to recycle an additional 15,000 tons of rigid plastic packaging. This will extend its existing bottle sorting and processing facility to now recycle a total of 150,000 tons of plastics annually.More

Education needed in changing face of plastics recycling
Business Wire via Market Watch
Many consumers have questions about where and how to recycle their plastics, and because collection differs from municipality to municipality, the answers aren't always easy to find. To help address these issues, the American Chemistry Council, an organization representing plastics producers, and Earth911, Inc., host of the nation's largest and most accurate recycling directory, are working together to help consumers locate recycling opportunities in their own communities.More

Russian PVC market passes million-ton mark
European Plastics News
Russian demand for suspension PVC grew by 15 percent in 2011, exceeding the psychological mark of 1 million tons and reaching 1.014 million tons, according to data provided by the Russian analyst agency Market Report. The production of PVC in Russia increased by 5 percent to 576,000 tons in 2011, the group said.More

Phillips Plastics undergoes name change
Hudson Star-Observer
Phillips Plastics Corporation, based in Hudson, Wis., announced that it has started the process of changing the company name to Phillips-Medisize Corporation. This name change is the result of the company's acquisition of Medisize, Inc., last August. Phillips-Medisize is a leading global outsource provider of design and manufacturing services to the medical device and diagnostics, drug delivery and commercial markets.More

Polyzen leverages process to transform polyurethane films into low-pressure medical balloons
PR Web via San Francisco Chronicle
Polyzen, Inc. has mastered a unique, patented process to create custom-shaped, low-pressure balloons. Balloons with new geometric conformation allow medical device designers the freedom to create products specifically for the intended application verses designing around the restrictions of conventional processing methods.More

The world's strongest fibers
Royal Society of Chemistry
The toughest polymer yarn of all time has been made by mixing a polymer with sheets of reduced graphene oxide and carbon nanotubes during spinning. The yarns are much cheaper than those using CNTs as the only additive, producing fibers that can be sewn like threads and coiled into springs.More

Oil rises above $99 in Europe after surprise US crude supply drop suggests demand improving
The Washington Post
Oil prices rose above $99 a barrel after an unexpected drop in U.S. crude supplies suggested demand is improving. The American Petroleum Institute said crude inventories fell 4.5 million barrels last week while analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., had predicted an increase of 2.3 million barrels.More