SPE Industry Update
Nov. 2, 2011

Converting plastics to energy could boost US reserves
Design News
Plastics make up only 9.5 to 17 percent of each state's municipal solid wastes, yet many plastics are more energy dense than coal. So the more than 85 percent of already used material that goes to the landfill means a lot of energy isn't being harvested. Converting these nonrecycled plastics into energy with current technologies could reduce US coal consumption and boost domestic energy reserves, a study by Columbia University's Earth Engineering Center says.More

Behavior of microencapsulated phase change material/epoxy composites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Microcapsules containing phase change materials (microPCMs) make a functional material with a 'core-shell' structure. MicroPCMs have attracted much attention in the fields of energy storage and smart materials, where they are widely applied as temperature-regulating fibers, construction materials, fabric and clothing, and as anti-ice coatings. For example, microPCMs have been used in a ski jacket, where the encapsulated PCM initially absorbs the skier's body heat and stores it until the body temperature drops from the outside environment. More

Polyblend melting in intermeshing counter-rotating twin screw extruders
SPE Plastics Research Online
Extrusion is the process where heated plastic is forced by a rotating metal screw through a shaping orifice (i.e., a die) in one continuous, formed shape to produce films, sheets, or pipes. The extruders are multi-component machines that require precise control over each step to ensure products are made accurately and with minimal waste. For example, polymer melting is one of the main functions of a plasticating extruder machine.More

How 'perfect plastic' is just round the corner
Plastic is getting a huge boost thanks to a team of European researchers that has found a new way to develop this material. An innovative 'recipe book' will help experts create the 'perfect plastic' with specific uses and properties. Presented in the journal Science, this study was funded in part by the DYNACOP project, which has clinched a Marie Curie Action 'Networks for Initial Training' grant worth almost EUR 3.5 million under the EU's Seventh Framework Program.More

California files suit over biodegradable bottle claims
Plastics News
California Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed suit against bottled water companies Aquamantra Inc. and Balance Water and their bottle supplier, ENSO Plastics, charging that the companies' claims that their bottles 'biodegrade' are false. The lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court on Oct. 26, seeks to have the bottles pulled off retail shelves in the state.More

European chemicals groups downbeat on growth, costs
European chemical groups warned of slowing demand in the construction industry, compounding problems with rising raw materials costs as they reported third-quarter results. Global chemical industry leader BASF reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings, but warned that growth was slowing as customers run down inventories.More

The value of plastics
Recycling Today
Panelists at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. 2011 Commodities Roundtable Forum addressed the value of plastics and the state of plastics recycling in a session held Sept. 20. "Plastic scrap is a very high value item, and a lot of people don't realize that," said Patricia Moore of Moore Recycling Associates, Sonoma, Calif.More

Polymer-coated cans lower energy use
Environmental Leader
New technology is allowing for drink cans with a much lower environmental footprint, according to Packaging Europe. This year's 2011 Can of the Year Award went to the Toyo Ultimate Can, which has a micron-thin polymer coating. This eliminates the needs for lubricants usually used in the can-shaping presses, which in turn means the manufacturer doesn't need chemicals to wash off the lubricant. The coating also eliminates the need for spray coats and the ovens used for curing those coats.More

Plastics recycling experts warns of over-reliance on Chinese market
Materials Recycling Week
Industry leaders have said dependence on transporting recycled plastic waste to China is "dangerous", at a seminar run by the British Plastics Federation. Delegates heard that although China was a major destination for U.K. plastics waste, the U.K. was a relatively minor contributor to Chinese markets.More

Resin spray transmission technology gains traction in auto sector
Plastics Today
Automakers are very interested in carbon fiber composite processing technologies that boast significantly lower processing costs. One such process promising such potential is Resin Spray Transmission from Quickstep Technologies (North Coogee, Australia). RST was funded through the AusIndustry Climate Ready Grant Scheme of the Australian government. More

Polypropylene resin prices dive, trailed by less-volatile polyethylene
Plastics News
North American polypropylene resin prices have plummeted an average of 14 cents per pound since Oct. 1, with polyethylene prices taking a smaller, 3-cent drop since then as well. The PP swoon ends a two-month period in which prices were flat. Prices for the material had tumbled a total of 19 cents per pound in June and July. That drop came after the market was besieged by a total of 37 cents in increases from January through May.More

Group to develop biodegradation standard for plastics additives
Packaging Digest
The Plastics Environmental Council has announced the sponsorship of a research study to produce the first standard specification for the landfill biodegradation of petroleum- and natural gas-derived plastics that have been treated with additives that enhance biodegradation. The PEC is undertaking the development of the biodegradation standard specification to build confidence in the efficacy of plastics additives with regulators, consumers and businessesMore

Toray Plastics completes solar farm
Providence Business News
Toray Plastics (America) Inc. announced the completion of its $2 million, 445 kilowatt solar photovoltaic farm at its North Kingstown, R.I., plant. Toray, manufacturer of polypropylene, polyester, and bio-based films, spends about $20 million annually on electricity. More

Aluminum molds gain ground
Plastics News
Aluminum is continuing to gain ground in selected high-volume injection mold tooling, with General Motors now launching its first parts using the lightweight material. Detroit-based GM uses aluminum for a map pocket for the Chevrolet Volt, said David Okonski, manager of the research and development engineering lab, during the Society of Plastics Engineers' Automotive Thermoplastic Polyolefins conference, held Oct. 5.More