SPE Industry Update
May. 21, 2014

Market and technology trends driving wind energy forward
By Don Rosato
Oil and natural gas prices and environmental forces are all key wind energy drivers. But the fact that wind energy has the highest rate of return among the various sources of alternative energy is attracting new "players" into the energy sector. Within the global wind power arena, the wind turbine industry has become one of the world's largest markets for plastic composites. The total installed wind capacity was expected to reach 318 GW by the end of 2013, enough to provide almost 4 percent of the global electricity demand. More

Surface-modified calcium fluoride in poly(ethylene terephthalate)
SPE Plastics Research
Minimizing filler aggregation during composite preparation is an important consideration in composite synthesis. One way to ensure that this happens is to chemically modify the surface of filler particles to improve the dispersion of fillers in polymer matrices. Coating particles with organic reagents, for example, can be achieved either during synthesis or by ligand exchange after composite preparation by introducing stabilizing monomers.More

Properties of mono- and multilayer PA6/clay and MXD6/clay films
SPE Plastics Research
Commercial thermoplastics' permeability to atmospheric gases such as oxygen and water vapor is a major problem in the packaging industry. A high oxygen permeation rate reduces the shelf life of packaged food products, which results in higher costs for food processors and retail customers. Aliphatic nylons such as polyamide 6 (PA6) have been widely used in food packaging, but their gas permeability is troublesome.More

IBM discovers first new class of polymers in decades
Gizmag
The chemical tree got a bit of a shake with scientists at IBM announcing the discovery of the first new class of polymer materials in decades. Discovered using a combination of lab experiments and computer modelling, the new plastics have properties that could potentially have a huge impact in manufacturing, transportation, aerospace and micro electronics.More

New thermoset plastics simple to recycle
Chemistry World
Thermosetting polymers that can be easily recycled have been developed by an international team of researchers. The team hopes that the work will prove useful in the electronics industry, where it could allow simpler recovery of high value components from a circuit board, and reduce the volume of waste plastic that ends up in landfills.More

Market and technology trends driving wind energy forward
By Don Rosato
Oil and natural gas prices and environmental forces are all key wind energy drivers. But the fact that wind energy has the highest rate of return among the various sources of alternative energy is attracting new "players" into the energy sector. Within the global wind power arena, the wind turbine industry has become one of the world's largest markets for plastic composites. The total installed wind capacity was expected to reach 318 GW by the end of 2013, enough to provide almost 4 percent of the global electricity demand. More

Plastics in construction: A vision of the future
By Adolfo Benedito
Plastics and their technology are youthful. We must remember the short history of plastic materials — which began in the late 19th century and grew throughout the 20th century — in relation to the wide experience of materials traditionally used in construction (metals, granite, ceramic and cellulosic). Initially, plastic materials were not considered as structural elements that were able to bear sustained loads. Undoubtedly, the characteristics of plastics were not the same as the ones of traditional cement or steel used for construction.More

Has US oil consumption decreased because of peak oil?
By Stefanie Heerwig
U.S. oil consumption has declined by more than 20 percent, giving peak-oil theorists their confirmation — world crude oil production is decreasing. And no matter how much U.S. production increases, everyone will feel the squeeze in the face of rising international oil prices. It is really hard to argue against this. After all, rising oil prices and decreasing consumption could be easily explained by one of the core peak-oil theories: the export-land model. So is this truly the end of oil?More

A brief history of plastics, natural and synthetic
BBC News
When you think of plastic, what springs to mind? Cheap toys from China? Packaging? But how about a woolly jumper? Or an antique oak wardrobe? Believe it or not, from a chemist's perspective all these things are made of the same class of materials: Polymers. And the distinction between which ones we happen to call "plastics" and which ones we don't is fairly arbitrary. Humans have been using naturally derived plastics for far longer than you may imagine.More

Study: 100-year life for PVC pipe conservative
Plastics News
Excavations and tests of PVC pipe in service around the world indicate the pipe material can be expected to provide reliable service in excess of 100 years, a new study says. That's twice as long as some pipe professionals would admit, said Steven Folkman, author of the "PVC Pipe Longevity Report: Affordability & the 100+ Year Benchmark Standard."More

Report: Skills shortage threatens future earnings and growth prospects of US manufacturers
The Wall Street Journal
U.S. manufacturers may be losing up to 11 percent annually of their earnings as a result of increased production costs stemming from a shortage of skilled workers, according to a new study from Accenture and The Manufacturing Institute. The scale of the issue is illustrated in the study, "Out of Inventory: Skills Shortage Threatens Growth for U.S. Manufacturing," in which 39 percent of the 300 U.S. manufacturing executives surveyed described the shortage of qualified, skilled applicants as "severe," and 60 percent said it has been difficult to hire the skilled people they need. More

Bioplastics in packaging come into its own
Plastics Today
"At Interpack this year, one of the statements heard again and again was 'we are already working with bioplastics,'"said Hasso von Pogrell, managing director of European Bioplastics. "It shows that bioplastics play an important role for present and future packaging solutions." Packaging is the leading application segment for all types of bioplastics.More

2 different polymers used to imitate biological lubrication
AZoM
Lubricants are required wherever moving parts come together. They prevent direct contact between solid elements and ensure that gears, bearings and valves work as smoothly as possible. Depending on the application, the ideal lubricant must meet conflicting requirements. On the one hand, it should be as thin as possible because this reduces friction.More

China's largest compounder shaking up the recycling industry
Plastics News
If the Green Fence campaign has put China's highly fragmented plastics recycling industry at crossroads, Kingfa Sci. & Tech. Co. Ltd. hopes to take it to a new direction. The Guangzhou-based firm, by far the largest domestic compounder, has set an aggressive goal for its newly formed recycling business — 30 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in sales by 2018 or nearly a third of Kingfa's overall sales, said Ning Hongtao, head of Kingfa's new recycling unit.More

Flexible, implanted devices may reshape medicine
Nature World News
Researchers behind a new, groundbreaking study have developed electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels – reshaping the field of medicine. Shape memory polymers are the critical factors to making this device work.More

MBA Polymers turns plastic waste into a raw material
The Guardian
MBA Polymers is accelerating the transition to a circular economy by transforming plastic waste into raw materials through the use of ground-breaking polymer technology. The resulting plastic pellets take 80 percent less energy to produce than virgin plastics and are used by manufacturers including HP, Nespresso and Electrolux to cut their carbon footprint.More

How plastics help define medical design excellence in 2014
Plastics Today
Now in its 17th year, the Medical Design Excellence Awards program celebrates the achievements of medical product manufacturers and their suppliers in the design and production of groundbreaking devices that save lives and improve patient healthcare. It won't come as a surprise that plastics play a significant role in the creation of many of these products.More

Looking to share your expertise?
MultiBriefs
In an effort to enhance the overall content of SPE Industry Update, we'd like to include peer-written articles in future editions. As a member of SPE, your knowledge of the industry lends itself to unprecedented expertise. And we're hoping you'll share this expertise with your peers through well-written commentary. Because of the digital format, there's no word or graphical limit. Our group of talented editors can help with final edits. If you're interested in participating, please email Ronnie Richard for more information.More