SPE Industry Update
Aug. 24, 2011

Plastic electronic skin could give sense of touch
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
Research engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed novel skin-mounted electronics using a polymer substrate. Components for sensing, medical diagnostics, communications and human-machine interfaces can be combined on a plastic patch thinner than a human hair. This mounts directly onto the skin "with the ease, flexibility and comfort of a temporary tattoo."More

Improved mechanical properties of a polylactide thermoplastic elastomer
SPE Plastics Research Online
Thermoplastic elastomers are very useful materials in packaging and appliance applications. A primary advantage is their amenability to injection molding, a common process for manufacturing both small and large commercial components. High cost and poor physical properties, such as low thermal stability, are common disadvantages of thermoplastic elastomers. Poly(lactic acid), PLA, may overcome these disadvantages. PLA is a biodegradable aliphatic polyester that is both biodegradable and renewable: lactic acid can be produced by microbial fermentation of biomass. More

Chemical degradation of polyethylene pipes due to water-based disinfectants
SPE Plastics Research Online
Polyethylene is commonly used to make domestic water pipes. It's clearly important to maintain pipe integrity, and so doing requires understanding of the chemistry underlying PE pipe fracture due to chemical aging, such as corrosion by disinfectants. We can analyze the problem using some basic equations. A PE pipe transporting water at temperature T and pressure p, inducing a hoop stress σ, is expected to undergo a failure after a duration tf. Only hoop stresses lower than a critical value on the order of 10MPa are used in practice.More

Former SPE president Thorne passes away
Plastics News
George W. Thorne, an industry activist who was president of the Society of the Plastics Engineers for the 1991-1992 year, passed away on Aug. 14. He was 87. Thorne was a resident of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for more than 40 years. He was president of Industrial Plastic Products Inc. in Miami Lakes, Fla., a custom injection molder and profile extruder, selling the company in 2006.More

Akron, Ohio, will turn curbside recyclables to crude oil
Lancaster Eagle Gazette
Akron, Ohio, plans to start converting its recycled plastics into synthetic crude oil. The 10-year contract with Houston's Greenstar Recycling was announced in the northeast Ohio city by Mayor Don Plusquellic. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the company will convert a hangar at Akron Fulton International Airport into a facility to process recyclables.More

From cows to plastic car parts
Edmonton Journal
Using steam and pressure, a University of Alberta research lab is extracting protein material from waste animal carcasses that is eventually converted into a variety of plastics. While a "mooving" car may sound like science fiction, David Bressler and his team are currently using thermal hydrolysis - a process that breaks down complex molecules - to make the thick goo for testing by the Woodbridge Group, an automotive parts manufacturer that specializes in polyurethane and makes items such as plastic mouldings and headliners.More

British Columbia grocery chain bringing back plastic bags
Canadian Plastics
Reversing a 2009 decision to stop offering single-use plastic carryout bags at its 26 stores, British Columbia grocery chain Thrifty Foods has now rolled out a pilot project to bring them back. The project will be in effect in three mainland B.C. stores, in Abbotsford, Coquitlam and North Vancouver.More

First-half 2011 robotics sales strongest in 4 years
Plastics Today
The North American robotics industry is booming, reporting its best first half since 2007, according to new statistics released by the Robotic Industries Association, the industry trade group headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich. Robotics industry sales jumped 41 percent in the first half of 2011, with the number of robots sold to North American companies totaling 8879, with a value of $577.8 million.More

Biofuels breakthrough at Rice University
Earth Techling
Developing nonpetroleum-based substitutes for gasoline, fertilizers, plastics and more is a huge area in biotech research right now. In the race to find efficient methods for producing petrochemical substitutes, Rice University engineering researchers have unveiled a new method that rapidly converts simple glucose into butanol – a biofuel that can be substituted for gasoline in most engines.More

New polymeric material brings companies one step closer
to cheaper plastic solar cells and electronics

A single polymer that can be used in both new age plastic electronics as well as plastic solar cells could spell greater cost-savings and open up new design options for electronic and solar cell companies. A*STAR's IMRE has developed a new polymer that not only produces a high charge mobility of 0.2 cm2/V.s, which is the same value achieved by commercially available semiconducting materials but also has a high solar power conversion efficiency of 6.3 percent.More

Plastics groups endorse recycling resolution
Recycling Today
The National Association for PET Container Resources, Sonoma, Calif., and the International Bottled Water Association, Alexandria, Va., have applauded a recycling-related Senate resolution that was introduced in early August. Senate Resolution 251: Expressing Support for Improvement in the Collection, Processing and Consumption of Recyclable Materials throughout the United States,has been co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Carper and Olympia Snowe, the co-founders of the U.S. Senate Recycling Caucus.More

Polymer prices fall on low crude, naphtha prices
Business Standard
Polymer prices, after rising for less than a month, fell once again in the domestic market following low crude oil and naphtha prices globally. Industry sources said the falling crude price has led to a drastic decline in naphtha prices around the globe. While crude prices have come down to $86-88 a barrel, naphtha prices are hovering around $860-870 a ton. This is as against a high of $110-115 a barrel for crude, which had propelled naphtha to touch a peak of $1,000 a ton few weeks before.More

Indonesia welcomes more vehicle production
Plastics Today
Recent announcements by global automakers regarding investments in Indonesia paint a bright picture for the local processing scene given commitments to local sourcing. General Motors is the latest to throw its hubcap into the ring with plans to invest $150 million to restart its assembly operation at Bekasi, West Java, that has been idle since early 2005.More

World Bank: Diversion of US corn into biofuels raises global food prices
The diversion of U.S. corn into the production of biofuels, amid high energy prices, have pushed corn prices 84 percent higher year on year fueling rising global food prices, a report released recently by the World Bank said. In the first four months of the year, U.S. corn demand used in ethanol production rose 8 percent year on year, and the trend may continue given the prevailing uncertainties in the energy market, the report said.More