SPE Industry Update
Feb. 29, 2012

Engineers create a rainbow-colored polymer
University at Buffalo engineers have developed a one-step, low-cost method to fabricate a polymer with extraordinary properties: When viewed from a single perspective, the polymer is rainbow-colored, reflecting many different wavelengths of light. Used as a filter for light, this material could form the basis of handheld multispectral imaging devices that identify the "true color" of objects examined.More

Shielding with conductive polymer and carbon fiber composites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Materials that protect against electromagnetic interference with high shielding effectiveness have gained great importance due to their applications in electronic, aerospace, medical, and military devices. Short carbon fibers mixed with blends of ethylene vinyl acetate and acrylonitrile butadiene copolymer are promising materials for shielding electronics from electromagnetic radiation. More

An inverse modeling method for parameter identification of thermoplastics
SPE Plastics Research Online
Polymers are widely favored in the transportation industry, whether as structural components or for the safety of passengers and pedestrians. Nevertheless, experience in the numerical modeling of polymers used in impact protection and structural systems is limited, generally because commercial finite-element software lacks robust material models. A new procedure simplifies the identification of true stress-true strain laws for the characterization of thermoplastics. More

Natural gas renaissance sparks favorable chemical reaction
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required)
Meet the latest market to be upended by North America's energy revival: ethane. Just as with natural gas and crude oil, there are winners and losers from this disruption. Ethane is a natural-gas liquid, or NGL, that is produced alongside natural gas. It is used primarily to make ethylene, which is used in turn to make plastics and other chemical products. Having jumped in 2011, its price has plummeted 39 percent so far this year.More

Compressed natural gas tanks set for plastic makeover
Plastics Today
Chesapeake Energy Corporation and 3M plan to collaborate in designing, manufacturing and marketing a broad portfolio of compressed natural gas tanks for use in all sectors of the United States transportation market. Currently the fuel tank on a CNG vehicle is its most expensive single component. The new plastics-intensive CNG tanks will reportedly reduce costs while increasing performance. Less expensive tanks will enable greater market adoption of CNG as an alternative automotive fuel source.More

Results mixed in ACC annual resin statistics
Plastics News
For high-density polyethylene and PVC demand in the U.S. and Canada, 2011 was a good year — but it was only a so-so year for low and linear low density PE and an unpleasant year for polypropylene. HDPE and PVC sales each grew a little more than 3 percent for the year, according to the American Chemistry Council in Washington, D.C. It was a mediocre year, however, for LDPE and LLDPE, with LDPE slipping 0.4 percent and LLDPE with a slight 0.5 percent gain.More

Polymer film that can capture tumor cells shows promise as a diagnostic tool
Nanowerk News
Cancer cells that break free from a tumor and circulate through the bloodstream spread cancer to other parts of the body. But this process, called metastasis, is extremely difficult to monitor because the circulating tumor cells can account for as few as one in every billion blood cells. Research has produced a polymer film that can capture specific CTCs. With further development, the system could help doctors to diagnose an advancing cancer and assess the effectiveness of treatments.More

Plastic manufacturers in Ghana call for mandatory use of biodegradable additives
Ghana Business News
The Ghana Plastic Manufacturers Association has appealed to the government to urgently consider regulations for the incorporation of biodegradable additives in the production of plastic carrier bags, water pouches and agricultural films. The association also proposed that through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, the government makes compliance with such regulations a pre-requisite for renewal of license of plastic manufacturers.More

Bans on polystyrene containers and single-use bags continue to spread
Plastics News
Unless there is an unexpected reversal in a second vote, Dana Point, Calif., is set to become the 50th community in California to enact a ban on polystyrene takeout foodservice containers. At the same meeting, Dana Point city council approved a ban on plastic bags. That means 54 cities and 12 counties in the U.S. have adopted plastic bag bans, three communities have taxes on plastic bags, and more than a dozen cities are actively pursuing plastic bag bans.More

Plastics manufacturer to open facility and add 140 jobs in Mocksville, NC
Winston-Salem Journal
Carolina Precision Plastics LLC will open a new facility in Mocksville, N.C. The plastics manufacturer plans to create 140 jobs and invest $5.3 million during the next three years. The project was made possible in part by a $250,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. The average annual wage for the new jobs will be $39,183 plus benefits.More

Industrial Plastics Co. moving up to 140 jobs from Ohio to Kentucky
The Plain Dealer
Industrial Plastics Co. in Valley City, Ohio, will close its plastic injection molding facility and move up to 140 jobs to Kentucky by the end of the year, the company said. The move is designed to save the company money by switching most of the work to an underused facility in Leitchfield, Ky., owned by MTD, the parent company of Industrial Plastics Co. More

Harvard scientist developing edible food packaging
Food Product Design
A Harvard University scientist has developed a new edible packaging technology that allows individuals to eat and transport food without plastic. Called WikiCells, the packaging encloses food and liquid in an edible membrane. WikiCells imitate such natural packaging by enclosing food and liquid in an edible membrane. The membrane, which is comprised of a charged polymer and food particles, is in turn protected by a hard shell which can be broken away much like that of an egg.More

Profits at German chemical firm BASF held back by higher raw material costs
The Associated Press via The Washington Post
Rising raw materials prices and weaker demand in a slowing economy held back fourth-quarter profits at German-based chemical, plastics and oil company BASF SE. But the company showed a strong result for the full year, raised its dividend and predicted things would pick up again in the second half. Net profit rose 3 percent in the fourth quarter to €1.13 billion ($1.5 billion). More

Carbon nanotubes improve fracture toughness of polyurethane composites for wind turbine blades
As demand for renewable energy increases, wind turbine blades are increasing in size, leading to longer blades that can achieve larger swept areas. Yet, gravity-induced bending loads on blades create dramatic increases in dynamic stress, heightening market demand for a material that reduces blade mass while retaining strength.More

Beverage Plastics sells 51 percent in partial takeover deal
Belfast Telegraph
Beverage Plastics has been partly bought by a Thailand-based multinational for an undisclosed sum. The 51 percent purchase of the plastics company was revealed in a filing to the Bangkok Stock Exchange by Indorama Ventures. The filing said Beacon Trading, an indirectly-owned subsidiary of the "integrated polyester chain producer," had acquired 51 percent of the Northern Ireland business.More

BASF targets next-generation car batteries
The Wall Street Journal (blog)
Chemicals giant BASF underscored its plans for developing next-generation batteries for cars and trucks, after making three acquisitions in the technology this year alone with a total value of more than $100 million. The German company has long been keen on reducing its dependence on cyclical businesses like plastics and chemicals, and has recently set its sights on developing batteries.More

What's behind the recent hike in gas prices?
Oil prices have jumped sharply in the past two weeks, and the price of gasoline is also moving up. Across the country, a gallon of regular costs nearly $3.60 on average, with some areas facing $4 gas. That's causing sticker shock at the pump, and concern that rising prices could derail the economic recovery.More

Mechanism behind capacitor's high-speed energy storage discovered
Researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered the means by which a polymer known as PVDF enables capacitors to store and release large amounts of energy quickly. Their findings could lead to much more powerful and efficient electric cars.More