SPE Industry Update
Sep. 19, 2012

Petrochemical industry hiring on the rise
Houston Chronicle
Plastics are known in the energy industry as polymers, and petrochemical companies across the Gulf Coast region area are busy refining the ingredients that touch every part of our lives. Polyethylene and polypropylene are the most common polymers and are used in automobiles, building and construction, toys, a wide variety of packaging and containers, carpet, textiles and hygienic products. The U.S. petrochemical industry is now in growth mode. And that means jobs for engineers and other types of workers.More

Computerized optimization substantially reduces profile extrusion die design time
SPE Plastics Research Online
In the plastics industry, profiles — extrusions of complex shape — are manufactured by forcing molten thermoplastics from an extruder through an extrusion die and then calibrating, cooling and solidifying them to the final form. The design of the die cavity, specifically the geometry of its internal flow channels, is crucial for successful and effective operation. More

Determining the aspect ratio of graphene nanocomposites by indirect measurements
SPE Plastics Research Online
The development of cheap, easily dispersible precursors that improve the engineering properties of polymers represents a key issue for a wide application of nanocomposites. Polymer nanocomposites based on carbon black, carbon nanotubes and layered silicates have been widely studied to improve several of their macroscopic qualities such as mechanical, thermal, electrical and gas-barrier properties. Of these, graphene is one of the most attractive nanofillers for large-scale applications of engineering plastic because of its extraordinary physical characteristics and ability to be dispersed in various polymer matrices.More

Manufacturing jobs boom is for real
President Barack Obama recently promised a boom in manufacturing and 1 million new jobs if he is re-elected. But is the boom for real? For high-paying, skilled manufacturing jobs, it just might be. The number of job openings for skilled factory workers has increased 38 percent since 2005, according to numbers from the Conference Board that measure labor demand across industries.More

What's the future for automotive composites?
Plastics Today
Plastics composites date to the earliest days in the automotive industry when wood was used as a reinforcing material. In the 1950s, General Motors launched a composite-sheathed Corvette, seemingly starting a composites boom. Chrysler reignited the flame when it launched the Viper. And as the 12th annual Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition recently kicked off in Troy, Mich., it appeared that all the ducks were lining up nicely for that long-awaited composites surge to take place.More

Polystyrene and PET prices rise in August
Plastics News
North American prices for solid polystyrene and PET bottle resin each headed up in August. Solid PS prices surged an average of 5 cents per pound, while PET jumped an average of 4 cents per pound, according to buyers and market watchers. The numbers also show a 10-cent downward correction on North American ABS prices to reflect further price erosion that occurred earlier this summer.More

Noncytotoxic nanosilver structures bring new hope for curing infections
INIC via Nanowerk News
Researchers managed to completely eliminate the cytotoxicity of silver nanoparticles, which brings new hopes for curing infections. To put it briefly, firstly, they coated silver oxide nanoparticles with a special polymer coating, which tends to absorb silver ions and secondly applied a reducing reagent until a smooth core-shell configuration is achieved. The obtained nanostructure is nontoxic to human cells, in contrast to the conventional silver nanoparticles, and possesses a spectacularly enhanced antibacterial effect.More

Chemists develop noselike sensor array to 'smell' cancer diagnoses
University of Massachusetts Amherst via PhysOrg
In the fight against cancer, knowing the enemy's exact identity is crucial for diagnosis and treatment, especially in metastatic cancers, those that spread between organs and tissues. Now chemists have developed a rapid, sensitive way to detect microscopic levels of many different metastatic cell types in living tissue. Researchers used a sensor array system of gold nanoparticles and proteins to "smell" different cancer types in much the same way our noses identify and remember different odors.More

Plastic-to-oil machine comes to Canada
Yukon News
What if we could turn all the plastic in our landfills into oil to heat our homes and fuel our vehicles? If that sounds like a pipe dream, it's not. It's happening right now in Canada. A machine invented in Japan has been installed at P&M Recycling in Whitehorse. It can chew through 240 kilograms of plastic every day and produce enough oil to continuously heat about 70 Yukon homes.More

Bioresorbable polymers push new boundaries
Plastics Today
Available for more than 40 years, bioresorbable polymers remain a focus of research in industry and academia, with some potentially groundbreaking developments in the pipeline. Scholars revealed some of the latest research at the Bioresorbable Polymer workshop held in advance of the recently completed MedTech Polymers Conference.More

Enzymatic etching used to build nanoscale surface topologies
Wiley via R&D Magazine
In living systems, complex nano- and microscale structures perform a host of physical and biological functions. While 2-D patterns can be recreated fairly well with techniques like microlithography, 3-D structures represent a big challenge. Researchers have now reported a new method for the lithography-free etching of complex surface motifs with the use of biodegradable polymers and enzymes. More

Aerospace industry moves to polymer drainage
European Plastics
In an industry first, German aerospace tubing manufacturer PFW Aerospace will manufacture a drainage system from Victrex PEEK polymer. The lightweight, thin wall Victrex pipes will be used to drain water condensation from the cargo hold of the Airbus A350 XWB.More

Radical nanowires: Has silicon met its match?
University of Buffalo via Futurity
Scientists working to identify materials that could one day replace silicon in faster computers may have found one. A research team reports they have synthesized nanowires made from vanadium oxide and lead. And these nanowires perform a rare trick: when exposed to an applied voltage near room temperature, the wires transform from insulators that are resistant to carrying electricity to metals that more readily conduct electricity.More