SPE Industry Update
Apr. 18, 2012

NASA develops new biofuel energy system using algae and plastic bags
Hydrogen Fuel News
NASA may no longer be conducting ambitious missions in the field of space exploration, but that does not mean the agency is resting on its laurels. The agency has taken an interest in alternative energy and has been experimenting with hydrogen, solar, wind and now biofuels. NASA recently unveiled a new system that is capable of growing massive amounts of algae that can be used for biofuel production. The system is comprised of giant plastic bags that contain small amounts of algae, enough to spawn a large colony if ideal conditions are present.More

Sandwich beams with a graded rubber core under flexural loading
SPE Plastics Research Online
Sandwich beams have attracted the attention of design engineers because they provide increased flexural rigidity and strength by virtue of their geometry. Such beams, if built with a gradient core, could replace more expensive glass-epoxy materials in applications such as automobile construction and bullet-proof paneling. Common, low-cost materials such as fly ash, jute and rubber can create graded structures with desirable properties that could replace more expensive glass-epoxy materials in certain applications. More

Improved dispersion of conductive particles in polypropylene composites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Conductive polymers have been used to produce electrical materials, especially for anti-static and sensor applications, and anti-corrosive coatings. Conducting composites may yield even more attractive combinations of properties such as conductivity, electrochemical activity and corrosion resistance. As a result, they are receiving more and more attention from researchers worldwide. Among conductive polymers, polyaniline has the best potential to become economically competitive.More

Carbon nanotube sponge devours oil
VideoBrief By adding boron to carbon nanotubes, scientists have created spongy, reusable blocks that absorb oil spilled in water. Oil absorbance is one of a range of potential innovations for the material created in a single step by researchers at Rice University and Penn State. The team found for the first time that boron puts kinks and elbows into the nanotubes as they grow and promotes the formation of covalent bonds, which give the sponges their robust qualities. More

Honeywell taps shale boom with plastic-production system
Honeywell International Inc. is tapping into a shale-drilling boom by selling customers such as Dow Chemical Co. a technology to convert propane found alongside natural gas into a raw material for plastics. Propylene, used in products from plastic milk jugs to auto parts, is in short supply, and a total of 14 million metric tons of new annual capacity is needed by 2016 as oil refineries produce less of the chemical, said Rajeev Gautam, chief executive officer of Honeywell's UOP unit. The gap will be filled by turning propane into propylene, he said.More

Novel chemical reaction sets chemistry world abuzz
University of Delaware via Phys.Org
A chemical reaction reported by University of Delaware assistant professor Donald Watson and his laboratory group has set the chemistry world abuzz for its creativity and potential utility. Watson and his team in the UD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have developed a chemical reaction that converts carbon-hydrogen bonds to carbon-silicon bonds using the metal palladium as a catalyst, yielding an important new tool for building molecules. The potential industrial applications are broad, ranging from the manufacture of medicines to plastics.More

Bayer buying Arkema's US polycarbonate sheet business
Plastics News
Bayer MaterialScience LLC plans to expand its North American polycarbonate sheet business by acquiring the Tuffak name and PC sheet production assets in the U.S. from Arkema Inc. Bayer spokesman Bryan Iams said the deal will be final in early May. For several months, Arkema will continue making Tuffak PC sheet under a toll arrangement with Bayer, while Bayer decides where to relocate the PC sheet assets at Arkema's Kensington, Conn., plant.More

BASF to invest in new chemical production site in India
BASF India Limited will invest 150 million euros to set up a new chemical production site at the Dahej Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region, located on the west coast of India in Gujarat. The new site will be an integrated hub for polyurethane manufacturing and will also house production facilities for care chemicals and polymer dispersions for coatings and paper. More

Polymeric membranes for gas and vapor separation
One of the main concerns of modern society is to maintain a high standard of living and to create a sustainable future. In this context we are facing a number of problems related to the need for more energy efficient and environmentally friendly use of our limited resources. Membrane technology is seen as a potential alternative for currently used processes, because of its small footprint, its energy efficiency and its modular design.More

Sabic's bendy resin makes a spectacle of itself
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
Tokyo-based eyewear retailer Intermestic has chosen Ultem polyetherimide resin from Sabic Innovative Plastics for the frames of its new line of Zoff Smart spectacles. Intermestic's use of aerospace-grade Ultem is intended to meet Japanese consumer demand for new eyewear styles with "exceptional" long-term performance and light weight, allowing the company to eliminate titanium and aluminum from the material selection process. More

NREL catalyst brings drop-in fuels closer
National Renewable Energy Laboratory via Phys.Org
We live in a petroleum-based society, and the oil we use comes from plants that were buried eons ago and changed under pressure and high temperatures. As countries across the globe face dwindling oil supplies and the environmental impacts of tapping hard-to-process shale oil, the question arises: Is there a greener way to replicate Mother Nature?More

Demand for phthalate-free plasticizers driven by legislative initiatives
Plasticizers fulfill a large number of functions in plastics and rubber chemistry, including influencing elasticity, viscosity, light fastness, fire safety and other polymer properties. Regulations increasingly necessitate that flexible PVC consumer products should only be processed by phthalate-free plasticizers. Phthalate-free plasticizers have been growing in demand due to legislative initiatives in developed markets such as North America, Western Europe and Japan. This trend is now also being seen in emerging markets around the world such as Latin America.More

iPad is bringing lithium-polymer battery prices down
Unwired View
Because of Apple, prices of lithium-polymer batteries, like those used in the iPads, are bound to fall in the near to medium-term future. That's because Apple is leading a newfound demand for large LiPo batteries that are now being used in everything from tablets to ultrabooks.More

Nanotech polymer used to magnetize and waterproof paper
Paper is a very useful material, but it does have a few issues, such as not surviving very well when it comes into contact with water, it tears easily, and requires some other material or object to help stick it to a surface. That may be about to change though, as scientists in Italy have been experimenting with the make-up of a sheet of paper using nanotech. The end result is paper that retains all the properties of a standard sheet, but can be made waterproof, magnetic or even demonstrates antibacterial properties.More

Graphene nanosensor tattoo on teeth monitors bacteria in your mouth
Detection of very small amounts of a chemical contaminant, virus or bacteria in food systems is an important potential application of nanotechnology. The exciting possibility of combining biology and nanoscale technology into sensors holds the potential of increased sensitivity and therefore a significantly reduced response time to sense potential problems.More

Auto suppliers call summit to discuss nylon 12 shortage
European Plastics News
Evonik Industries is warning customers that supplies of some materials using cyclododecatriene feedstocks — including nylon 12 — could be constrained following a recent factory explosion in Marl, Germany. Nylon 12 supplies were already constrained prior to the incident, and now auto suppliers are planning a summit to discuss the severe shortage.More

Conductive polymers market in US to reach $1.6 billion by 2017
The U.S. market for conductive polymers is projected to reach $1.6 billion by the year 2017, as per Global Industry Analyst. Growth will be primarily driven by expanding new applications in advanced organic light emitting diode screens, sensor chips, low-cost radio frequency tagging systems, photovoltaic structures and other optoelectronic-enabled products.More