SPE Industry Update
June. 1, 2011

Middle East Plastics: What's going on in the Gulf?
SPE
While the governments of the Middle East have been much in the political news in recent months, the region's plastics industry has also been making news, with the start-up of additional petrochemical capacity and announcements of even more to come, as well as the buildup of additive supply and polymer parks and innovation centers focused on downstream processors. The plastics industry in the Middle East can be said to have started in the 1980s with the construction of petrochemical plants designed to take advantage of readily available feedstocks that are a byproduct of the region's oil production.

This article appears in the June 2011 issue of SPE's Plastics Engineering magazine.More

Plastics major source of Saudi Arabia's nonoil export revenue
Arab News
Plastics have overtaken petrochemicals to become the largest source of nonoil export revenue in Saudi Arabia, according to a new report. Higher prices and a 42 percent increase in the volume exported lifted the value of plastics exports by 79 percent to $11.2 billion in 2010, said the report released by Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment.More

Understanding hyperbranched polymerization mechanisms
SPE Plastics Research Online
The polymerization of N,N'-bismaleimide-4,4'-diphenylmethane (BMI) with barbituric acid (BTA) produces hyperbranched polymer products exhibiting very high glass-transition temperatures and excellent heat resistance that have several useful applications. When epoxy resins are formulated with these BMI/BTA-based polymers, it is possible to achieve advanced adhesive compositions with excellent heat resistance without resorting to halogen-containing compounds. More

Is calcium carbonate still reasonable as cheap and inert filler?
SPE Plastics Research Online
Polyolefins are ubiquitous commercial polymers used in a broad range of products from consumer goods to food packaging. They are, however, inherently flammable, and thus for certain applications must be treated to meet stringent fire-safety specifications. Halogenated compounds (such as those used in electronics) constitute one well-known class of flame-retardant additives. More

Self-healing polymer generates army interest
swissinfo
Scientists from Swiss college Fribourg University and two laboratories in the U.S. have developed a polymer-based coating, known as a "metallo-supramolecular" polymer, that can heal itself when placed under ultraviolet light for less than a minute. The new material has potentially many different practical applications from tactile screens to other everyday consumer items like cars, floors and furniture that get easily scratched, as well as nail polish, and it has generated army interest.More

New degradable polymer mimics strength of oil-derived materials
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
A prizewinning University of Florida team has devised a way to synthesize "green," degradable polyesteracetal polymers – claimed to provide the strength of petroleum-based plastics, which is lacking in materials made from polylactic acid and other "green" precursors.More

Green plastics growth spurt, global bioplastics capacity to double by 2015
Plastics Today
Global bioplastics production capacity will more than double from 2010 to 2015, with capacity already forecast to exceed 1 million tons in 2011, propelled by the expansion of bioplastics into an ever-increasing number of applications, ranging from packaging to automotive to toys. Stating that "bioplastics are in demand as never before," the study was presented at interpack by the European Bioplastics association, working in conjunction with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Hanover.More

Polypropylene more attractive for automotive applications
Platts
Polypropylene is finding ever more uses in automotive applications and is set to play a strong role in the auto industry moving forward. Back in the 1980s, automobile manufacturers preferred to use more expensive high performance plastics in their designs. However, as cost pressures started to change the industry, the more commoditized and therefore less expensive polypropylene became a more attractive polymer for auto manufacturers. The average car in 1980 contained roughly 10 kilograms of polypropylene but by 2010 the plastic surpassed 65 kilograms, with potential for even more automotive uses. More

Consolidation ahead for PET recyclers?
Plastics News
North American recyclers are benefiting from rising virgin resin prices and a cutback in competition from China. But experts say they still face many challenges, and there could be consolidation ahead. "Some people [in the post-consumer PET market] are having troubles getting material and are nowhere near their stated capacity. A lot of people are not going to be able to stick it out," said plastics recycling consultant Jean Bina, former key buyer and supply chain manager at Phoenix Technologies International LLC in Bowling Green, Ohio.More

Dow makes energy from recycled plastic
Packaging Digest
The Dow Chemical Co. says it has successfully demonstrated the use of recycled plastic to generate energy. The pilot test measured how plastic that has been reused and recycled to the full extent possible can be used as fuel for an ultimate end-of-life option instead of going to a landfill for disposal. More

Fill 'er up, with plastics scrap
Plastics Today
If the U.S. recovered the energy from its non-recycled plastic by converting these materials into fuel, it could generate enough for the equivalent of 6 million cars annually. That finding released by the American Chemistry Council from a study conducted for it by 4R Sustainability Inc. on increasing opportunities for plastics-to-fuel "conversion technologies."More

Developing better polymers for solar cells
Materials Views
Solution-processed organic solar cells are promising alternatives to conventional methods for generating electricity. However, much further improvement in their efficiency is required before they can be widely used. The most efficient organic photovoltaics combine an electron-donating polymer with an electron-accepting fullerene. Replacing the fullerene with an electron-accepting polymer would allow for better light absorption, but finding the right replacement material is proving to be experimentally challenging.More

BASF to build 300,000 mt/year single line TDI plant in Europe
Platts
BASF will build the world's largest single line toluene diisocyanate plant at one of its existing integrated sites in either Antwerp, Belgium or Ludwigshafen, Germany a company statement said. The TDI plant will have a capacity of 300,000 metric tons per year and will start production in 2014, BASF said. The company added that "engineering is underway and the final site selection will be announced shortly."More

High-performance polymer phototransistor
Materials Views
Organic materials with optical and electrical functions have attracted wide attention since the discovery of conductive polyacetylene. These materials allow chemical engineering of optoelectronic properties by molecular design, taking advantages of low cost, flexibility, low temperature processing, and roll-to-roll large area production. More

Sabic reaches milestone in sustainable plastic product offerings
AZoCleantech
At Chinaplas 2011, the Innovative Plastics strategic business unit of SABIC announced a new milestone in its expanding sustainability efforts to provide customers with a diverse portfolio of high-performance, environmentally responsible materials.More

Pacific Plastics & Engineering acquired by Cretex Cos.
San Jose Mercury News
Pacific Plastics & Engineering, a 22-year-old medical-device maker, has been acquired by Cretex Cos., a group of manufacturing companies based in Elk River, Minn., the two privately held firms announced Monday. The purchase price was not disclosed. Stephanie Harkness, who started Pacific Plastics in 1989 with her husband Jack and grew the workforce to nearly 100 employees in a 24/7 facility, said she discovered Cretex through an investment bank.More