SPE Industry Update
Jul. 15, 2015

Plastics Technology Revitalizing Wind Energy Trends
By Don Rosato
In wind energy, the trend is to create larger and lighter blades to capture more wind and lower rotational inertia. New technology is being developed to build enormous turbine blades, while also eliminating the need for molds and the transportation problems typical with large blades. Intelligent blades that adapt to wind conditions will also provide a leap in energy yield. Vertical-axis wind turbines are being developed for large-scale offshore wind turbine applications.More

Effect of Inorganic Pigments on the Hygrothermal Properties of Wood-Plastic Composites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Due to the introduction of wood fibers, wood-plastic composites (WPCs) are hygroscopic in nature (i.e., they attract and absorb water). This absorption of moisture, which occurs in wet environments and/or under high humidity, leads to dimensional instability, microcracks, degradation, mass loss, susceptibility to bio-deterioration, and significant reduction in the mechanical stiffness and strength of WPCs. To enhance the market appeal of plastic products, the addition of pigments is a common practiceMore

New Method Helps Cut Costs and Wastage in Bioplastic Production
A team of researchers at the KU Leuven Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis has formulated a simple method to produce the bioplastic known as polylactic acid in a waste-free manner. PLA bioplastics are employed in several products used in daily life such as vegetable wrapping foil and biodegradable drinking cups. However, so far, they are not thought of as a 100 percent alternative to conventional petroleum-based plastics as they cost more to produce.More

Logistics Bottlenecks Complicate the US Plastics Boom
Chemical companies, ports and other industry players are facing massive challenges to ensure that an unprecedented rise in new plastics production volume can be exported overseas, mostly to China and other markets in Asia. U.S. plastics production, comprised of mainly ethylene and propylene derivatives, is expected to soar in 2017-2018 from record plant expansions. But several logistical steps must be taken to export this excess capacity, such as adding packaging centers strategically located to prepare plastics for container shipment.More

Start-Up Turns Methane from Manure into Eco-Friendly Plastic
Los Angeles Times
Scientists have long known it was possible to use climate-changing methane, rather than oil or natural gas, to make water bottles, Tupperware and other plastics. But they couldn't do it cheaply enough to make the technology commercially viable. Now, a small Costa Mesa company says it's cracked the code. It's lined up contracts with Dell, L'Oreal and other major corporations to supply the plastic for packaging, containers and chairs from potent methane that would've instead seeped into the atmosphere.More

3-D Printed Robot Inspired by Nature Capable of Multiple Jumps
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the Harvard University have joined forces in order to develop a 3-D printed robot with a soft exterior and a rigid core. This robot is powered by a butane-oxygen mixture and has the capability to perform multiple untethered jumps.More

Producing Biodegradable Plastic Just Got Cheaper and Greener
Biomass Magazine
Biodegradable drinking cups or vegetable wrapping foil: the bioplastic known as polylactic acid is already a part of our everyday lives. And yet, PLA is not yet considered a full alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics, as it is costly to produce. Researchers from the KU Leuven Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis now present a way to make the PLA production process more simple and waste-free. More

P&G Latest to Join the Recycling Partnership
Plastics Today
Consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble Co. has joined The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit group which aims to increase curbside recycling in the U.S. The company is the latest member to join the partnership and is among the ranks of Amcor, Coca-Cola Co., Sonoco Products Co., American Chemistry Council, Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.More

Serving Up Plant-Based Plastics
Plastics News
The ownership of Stillwater, Minnesota, mold maker and manufacturer VistaTek LLC created an independent company to manufacture plates, bowls and other items from plant-based plastics. Called SelfEco, the company produces various food service items — plates, bowls, cups, cutlery — and other supplies that are compostable in commercial composting facilities.More

US Energy Production Could Create Almost a Half-Million New Jobs, but Here's the Thing
Plastics Today
Energy resources in the United States offer a huge opportunity to send the U.S. economy on an upward trajectory that hasn't been seen since the mid to late 20th century. A new report from the Boston Consulting Group and Harvard Business School, titled America's Unconventional Energy Opportunity, addresses this opportunity and, more importantly, why we're not taking advantage of it.More

Sorry, but the Perfect Lego Brick May Never Be Eco-Friendly
If you've ever played with a competing brand of "interlocking plastic bricks," you know that Lego's big advantage is their solidity, their seemingly infinitesimal tolerances that make sure every piece fits just so with every other. The seams turn invisible. The secret to that tight connection (and how painful Legos are to step on): Plastic.More

Toymaker Sees Growth Potential in Licensing
Plastics News
In the age of blockbuster films and cross-platform megafranchises, toy licensing is big business. Can Walled Lake, Michigan-based American Plastic Toys Inc. — which has relied on its U.S.-manufactured, low-priced toys such as sand buckets and kitchen sets — thrive among the top-selling licensed toys like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Minecraft and Jurassic World? That’s the bet.More

Study: To Improve Recycling, Don't Crush Containers
Plastics News
Recycling would be well served if Americans reconsidered a long-held approach to how they handle their plastics and other recyclables. Crushing recyclables, including plastic bottles and containers, is an easy way to make more room in the recycling container. But that simple and time-tested practice actually can lead to a more difficult time for today’s material recycling facilities, says the new MRF Material Flow Study report commissioned by a handful of trade groups.More

BPF Slams Selfridges Plastic Water Bottle Ban
Packaging News
Selfridges, the department store, announced the ban on plastic water bottles as an attempt to tackle marine litter. It said it would install water fountains for customers to refill their own containers. Alannah Weston, deputy chairman of Selfridges Group, said: “We aim to drive awareness of the serious threat plastic poses to our oceans.” Philip Law, the BPF’s director general said, “The availability of water in portable, lightweight bottles promotes good health and can be critical in emergency situations. Plastic products do not litter themselves onto our streets or into our oceans, people do.”More

Designs Unveiled for World's 1st Production Line of 3-D-Printed Cars
Local Motors announced the winner of its Project Redacted challenge, a design competition which will serve as the inspiration for the world's first fleet of 3-D-printed cars. The winning design of Project Redacted is Reload Redacted - Swim/Sport by Kevin Lo. In addition to its revolutionary design, the entry showcases many benefits of Direct Digital Manufacturing, including the ability to create a completely customizable vehicle. What's more, its design boasts a flexible foundation that can support many different styles and technology options.More