SPE Industry Update
Mar. 12, 2014

Innovative solar energy applications point the way forward
By Don Rosato
Most people no longer ask whether solar energy will be a success; the question is rather which forms of photovoltaic technology and system types will be successful. The total global installed PV capacity is fast approaching 100 GW, up from 1.5 GW in 2000 to 89.5 GW at the end of 2013. In 2013, for the second straight year, solar PV was the leading source of new electricity capacity installed, beating out wind, gas, coal and nuclear, and this trend is expected to continue as solar installed costs continue to fall. With that in mind, let's take a look at emerging solar energy plastics-related applications.More

Rapid evaluation of thermal aging of polymer composites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Polymer composites (PMCs) based on high-temperature thermosetting resins show promise as next-generation materials for aerospace applications. Of particular interest is a series of composite materials consisting of epoxy resin and carbon fibers, which have excellent bonding, thermal, and mechanical characteristics.More

Green trends for polymers
Plastics Engineering
The quest for a green economy and the growing public awareness of climate change stimulate the surging demand for green and renewable products with a low carbon footprint. Moreover, the rapidly growing world population, projected to increase from 7 to 9 billion by 2050, aspires to a higher quality of life. Ultimately, this will lead to drastically increased demand for energy and resources, accompanied by massive greenhouse gas emissions.More

Plastic packaging reduces emissions and energy consumption
A new study from the American Chemistry Council and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association has determined that six different categories of plastic packaging (caps and closures, beverage containers, rigid containers, shopping bags, shrink wrap, and flexible packaging) made and sold in the United States and Canada can help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions when compared to packaging made from other materials.More

Innovative solar energy applications point the way forward
By Don Rosato
Most people no longer ask whether solar energy will be a success; the question is rather which forms of photovoltaic technology and system types will be successful. The total global installed PV capacity is fast approaching 100 GW, up from 1.5 GW in 2000 to 89.5 GW at the end of 2013.More

Improving starch-based materials for packaging
SPE Plastics Research Online
Replacing non-biodegradable polymers with biodegradable polymers has reduced pollution caused by polymer wastes. Natural (rather than synthetic) biopolymers offer the additional advantage of renewability, and, among natural polymers, starch possesses an attractive combination of availability, low price, and high performance. As a result, it is regarded as one of the most promising renewable materials.More

Lego investigates shift to bioplastics
Plastics Today
Lego, the global producer of children's building blocks, expects to convert to bioplastics as part of a long-term sustainability program. "I know it will happen; it is just a matter of time," Alan Rasmussen, a materials engineer at Lego said recently in a presentation at Innovation Takes Root, a conference sponsored by Nature Works in Orlando, Fla.More

Is plastics the most sustainable material for packaging?
Plastics Today
Most of the time when there is talk about plastic packaging and sustainability, it centers on lightweighting, bioplastics, etc. However, a new study argues that your typical plastic packaging made from petrochemicals do just fine in enhancing a package's environmental performance. More

Study says demand for bioplastics to grow 19 percent annually
Plastics News
According to analyst Kent Furst, from Cleveland-based Fredonia: "Robust growth in demand is expected in virtually all geographic markets." This will most likely be due to increasing consumer preference for sustainable materials, the increased adoption of bioplastics by plastic processors and compounders, and new product developments creating new uses for bioplastics.More

New report analyzes market for innovating high performance thermoplastics
High performance thermoplastics – lightweight materials with the potential to replace advanced metal, ceramic, and other composite parts – are on the road to key market advances, according to Lux Research. These multifunctional materials will overcome a mix of cost and performance constraints to find broader adoption, building on past successes in aerospace, medical and electronics applications.More

Shortcut to carbon dioxide plastics holds sequestration promise
Chemistry World
Japanese scientists have cleared a significant hurdle in using carbon dioxide as a chemical feedstock and made a polymer that contains almost a third of the gas by weight. The team discovered a way to make the reaction conditions for the addition of carbon dioxide to an olefin more favorable, which they claim could make the large-scale production of carbon dioxide-based plastics possible.More

Carbon and fiberglass composite compound is cheaper
Design News
For semi-structural and some structural parts in a car, carbon fiber compression molding compounds work well, and are faster to produce than the autoclave-dependent advanced materials. They're still pricey, though. One way to lower that price is by combining them intelligently with other fibers, like glass. That's what Quantum Composites has done.More

Electrician's plastic invention gets a jolt from Kickstarter
Plastics News
Jeremy Smith, 41, exceeded his $12,000 goal in just two hours and raised $130,000 and counting less than 36 hours into his month-long crowd-funding campaign. Smith invented what he is calling SnapRays Guidelights. His outlet covers are made of ABS and have a bottom edge equipped with light-emitting diodes. The device eliminates the need for night lights and frees up space for other plugs.More

A boost for photosynthetically derived bioplastics
Nanowerk News
Minami Matsui, Nyok-Sean Lau and colleagues from the Synthetic Genomics Research Team at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science have now led research that has significantly advanced the potential of bacterial fermentation-based plastics.More

Natural fiber shows promise in Ford glovebox
European Plastics
The German government-sponsored FNR agency, which supports research projects in materials from naturally renewable sources, held a conference in November 2013 in Berlin which explored the use of bio-based materials in the automotive area. A major focus of presentations was a government-supported project: “Materials and flow models for natural fiber reinforced injection molding materials for practical application in the automotive industry."More

New recycling technology turns waste plastic into 3-D printer filament
A study led by Joshua Pearce of Michigan Technological University has shown that making your own plastic 3-D printer filament from milk jugs uses less energy—often a lot less—than recycling milk jugs conventionally.More

New catalyst may lead to cleaner, cheaper methanol
Researchers have discovered a potentially clean, low-cost way to convert carbon dioxide into methanol, a key ingredient in the production of plastics, adhesives, and solvents, and a promising fuel for transportation.More