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A S l A ’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r t h e p las t l c s and r u b b e r l nd u s t r y

業 界新聞 建 筑 及 建造業: 建築防火安全:鋁複合材料極其火熱

In this issue

Volume 32, No 231

publlshed slnce 1985

A S l A’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r the plastlcs and rubber lndustry

Features 焦 點 內 容 14 建筑及建造業: 建築防火安全:鋁複合材料極其火熱 18 Building & Construction – Building façade materials have come under scrutiny, especially with the recent fire in London that took almost 150 lives

22 Medical Industry – Polymer materials, with their broad range of properties, are ushering in advancements for cardiovascular devices

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email: Associate Publisher/Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 Email: Senior Editor Angelica Buan Email:

25 Recycling – Due to the use of phthalates, PVC resin may not have

Writer: Marie Victoria Maniebo Email:

a good name in the industry, but with recycling of the material on the uptrend, it is being seen in a different light

Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling

28 Pipes/Profiles – With its new motto of being driven by innovation, Austrian machine maker battenfeld-cincinnati presented a host of equipment at the Chinaplas in May this year

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10 業界新聞

Supplements 副 刊 Husky Injection Molding Systems says that when moulding high-temperature polymers, direct-gating with a hot runner system can save moulders time and money Renewably-sourced synthetic rubbers are making their rounds in the automotive and tyre markets DIGITAL+PRINT

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The types of infill used in composite panels for building facades are coming under scrutiny, especially in the combustibility of the panels 業界新 聞 建筑及建造 業 : 建築防火安全:鋁複合材料極其火熱

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Industry News

M&As/Tie-ups • US-headquartered medical devices supplier MedPlast has acquired singleuse medical device maker Coastal Life Technologies. Early this year, MedPlast also took over Vention Medical's Device Manufacturing Services business; and earlier on, partnered with investments firms Water Street Healthcare Partners and JLL Partners. MedPlast says the recent acquisition augments its finished device assembly capabilities and extends its manufacturing sites to 23, with the addition of Coastal Life's 12,542 sq m-facility in San Antonio. • US-based thermoformer Universal Plastics has acquired gas assist injection moulding specialist Sajar Plastics. Terms were not disclosed. The companies say the acquisition will provide unbiased guidance on which process is better suited for a particular application. • US injection moulder and extruder Streamline Plastics has merged its extrusion operations with Toner Plastics Group. Streamline, which supplies the display industry,



toy industry, writing instruments and a variety of custom applications, will merge its moulding operations into Modern Mold and Tool in Pittsfield. • South African specialised chemicals services business Omnia has acquired a 90% stake in Durbanbased Umongo Petroleum, a supplier of lubricant additives, base oils , process oils and chemicals. Under the deal, Umongo will continue to operate as a stand-alone entity within Omnia. The N$780 million purchase will enable Omnia’s chemical business Protea Chemicals to benefit from Umongo’s business distribution of chemicals and polymers in countries such as South Africa, Namibia and Kenya. Umongo also has supply and distribution agreements for the supply of additives from Chevron Oronite and base oils from Chevron Products Company into the South African and sub-Saharan Africa markets. Umongo also recently acquired Orbichem Petrochemicals. • Louisiana-Pacific (LP) is to acquire 100% shareholding of Minnesotabased International Barrier Technology for US$22 million. Barrier manufactures

the fire retardant coating used in LP FlameBlock fire rated products. Southern said the trend for more fire resistance in residential and commercial buildings continues to escalate, driven by changing building codes and their enforcement. Barrier will operate as part of LP’s OSB business. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of this year. • PVC compounder Aurora Plastics has acquired Canadian compatriot Reinier Plastics. The combined company will offer a wider range of custom PVC compounding capabilities, including rigid PVC powders, clear rigid PVC, PVC/ acrylic pellets, and others; and will operate three PVC compound production facilities across the US and in Canada. • US provider of specialised polymer materials PolyOne Corporation has acquired acquired Mesa, a US producer of colour and additive materials and services. Mesa is Polyone’s fourth specialty colour acquisition in the last eight months. Privately-owned Mesa produces both solid and liquid colourant technologies and operates two facilities located in Arizona and Arkansas. It serves a diverse range of end

markets including packaging, consumer products and outdoor equipment. Meanwhile, Polyone is also selling its Designed Structures and Solutions (DSS) business, including its sheet, rollstock and packaging assets, to Arsenal Capital Partners for US$115 million. DSS manufactures engineered polymer structures, rigid barrier packaging, and specialty cast acrylics. The sale is subject to satisfaction of regulatory requirements and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2017. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down short term borrowings and fund ongoing growth initiatives.

• AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals business has finalised the first application agreement for bio-based polymers to result from its collaboration with speciality polymers company Itaconix. It involves AkzoNobel developing applications for Itaconix polymers to be used in the coatings and construction industries, with Itaconix contributing its proprietary polymers from itaconic acid, which are obtained from sugars through fermentation.

INDUSTRY NEWS • Abu Dhabi-headquartered Adnoc (Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.), which recently released its 2030 growth strategy, is considering an IPO of minority stakes of its service stations network of 300 that covers Abu Dhabi and Sharjah exclusively, while in the rest of the Northern Emirates it has an 85% share. It may seek a value of as much as US$14 billion, according to unnamed sources. The unit may ultimately fetch a value of about US$10 billion and raise up to US$3 billion from a listing, according to the report, that also adds that no final decisions has been made, and Adnoc may also decide not to pursue an IPO. • Belgian chemical company Solvay is selling its 50% stake in Brazil-based Dacarto Benvic to its joint venture partner companies, which will become the sole owner of the Brazilian PVC compound processor. The sale follows Solvay’s withdrawal from PVC activities in Europe, Asia and Latin America. The partners are Dupre Empreendimentos e Participações, Tondela Empreendimentos e Participações, and WR3C Empreendimentos e Participações. • German flexible packaging specialist Klöckner Pentaplast has completed the acquisition of Linpac Senior Holdings Limited and its direct and indirect subsidiaries. Linpac is a film producer and converter for food packaging in Europe. The transaction creates a worldwide leader in the rigid and flexible film market, with annual revenues exceeding US$2 billion.

Capacity Expansions/Plant Set-ups • Adnoc and Austria’s Borealis are to expand both their downstream petrochemicals businesses. The firms will move to the pre-feed (front end engineering and design) stage for the construction of the Borouge 4 complex, which encompasses a world-scale, mixed feedstock cracker, using existing feedstock available in Abu Dhabi and downstream derivatives units for both polyolefin and non-polyolefin products. It is slated to come on stream around 2023 and will be integrated with Adnoc’s Takreer refinery. Simultaneously, the companies will look into the set-up of an additional PP plant based on Borealis’s proprietary Borstar technology. It will be integrated with the existing Borouge 3 complex, and utilise surplus propylene available from Takreer’s new Propane DeHydrogenation (PDH) unit, producing around 0.5 million tonnes/year of PP. • Shaanxi Coal Yulin Energy and Chemical is a building PP plant in the Jingbian Chemical Industrial Park in Yulin City, Shaanxi Province, China. It will utilise schemical firm LyondellBasell’s Spherizone and Lupotech T technologies. The Yulin plant will be the 14th in the world to be licensed under the Spherizone technology since its commercial launch in 2006, representing more than 4 million tonnes/year of PP capacity. Also utilising LyondellBasell technology is Chinese firm Liaoning Bora Petrochemical that will set up three new PP and PE plants in its new petrochemical complex in Panjin, Liaoning Province. It will include two PP units with a combined capacity of 600 kilotonnes/year and a 350 kilotonnes/year HDPE plant operating on the Hostalen ACP process technology.

Ministry of Industry, Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia Woven Polyolefin Manufacturers Association

Indonesian Packaging Federation

The Indonesian Indonesian Packaging Food and Beverages Development Board Association

Asosiasi Industri Plastik Hilir Indonesia

Association of Plastic Converting Industry


The Soft Drink Industry Association

Indonesia Mould & Dies Industry Association


The Indonesian Olefin Aromatic & Plastic Industry Association

Association of Indonesia Bottled Water Company


Industry News

• Thailand’s Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited (IVL) has expanded its Purified Terephthalic Acid (PTA) plant at its Rotterdam facility to increase capacity of PTA from 380,000700,000 tonnes/ year. Together with its Spanish facility, IVL makes a total of 1 million tonnes/ year of PTA, used mainly as feedstock for PET, thus making it Europe’s largest integrated PTA/PET supplier. Meanwhile, IVL expects to start-up its US ethylene cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which it acquired in 2015, by end of the year. • German chemical firm BASF will be focusing on the production of XPS (extruded polystyrene) boards only in Ludwigshafen, by end of the year, halting production of XPS at its Schwarzheide location also in Germany by the fourth quarter of this year, due to overcapacities and low margins. • Swiss firm DKSH’s Business Unit Performance Materials, an ingredients and speciality chemicals distributor, has opened an innovation centre in Canlubang, Laguna, Philippines, to focus on the development of new concepts and



formulations for the paints, inks and construction industries. The new facility joins a total of seven DKSH innovation centres worldwide, dedicated to the speciality chemicals industry. • German chemical and consumer goods company Henkel has opened a composite lab test facility for composites in Japan. It is Henkel’s second automotive test facility, after its German composite lab, which it opened last year in Heidelberg. The Isogoku, Yokohama-based facility will allow automotive customers from across Asia to team up with Henkel experts to develop and test composite parts. • LyondellBasell is building the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant in Texas, to be completed by mid2021, at a cost of US$2.4 billion. The world-scale project is expected to create up to 2,500 jobs and approximately 160 permanent positions when operational. The plant will produce 470,000 tonnes/year of PO and 1 million tonnes/year of TBA, catering to both domestic and global customers, while the oxyfuels will be sold to Latin America and

Asian customers. It will be located at the LyondellBasell Channelview Complex in Channelview, Texas. The associated ethers unit that will convert TBA to oxyfuels, will be at the company's Bayport Complex near Pasadena. • Canadian hot runner supplier MoldMasters, a subsidiary of machinery firm Milacron, has completed an 8,200sq m expansion in Kunshan City, Jiangsu, China, to its hot runner and control systems manufacturing facility and a 2,500sq m expansion of its administration and support staff offices. The expanded footprint allows the addition of 52 new machining centres, for increases in nozzle, manifold and component manufacturing. The China operations employ over 800, with that number expected to reach 900 by the end of 2017. • US machinery maker DavisStandard recently commemorated the 15,000-sq ft expansion to its facility in Pawcatuck. The new facility houses manufacturing and precision machining of advanced multilayer blown film dies, enabling Davis-Standard to

move all its blown film manufacturing from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to Pawcatuck. The expansion will bring more than 30 new manufacturing jobs to the site over two years. • Dutch manufacturer of dosing systems Movacolor is building a new facility at its current location at Sneek, the Netherlands. The company will move to the fully energyneutral building, which it says will be thrice larger than its current location, in the third quarter of 2018. The 100% sustainable building will include solar panels, top cooling in the entire building, underfloor heating and heat pumps, as well as charging stations for electric cars. • Finlandheadquartered TactoTek, a provider of solutions for injection moulded structural electronics (IMSE), has opened its new manufacturing and corporate headquarters facilities in Oulu. The new location is purpose-built for IMSE and contains all production steps of the IMSE manufacturing process, including printing decoration and electronics,

INDUSTRY NEWS surface mounting electronic components, high pressure thermoforming, and injection moulding; and ISO 7 classification clean room facilities. • French materials firm Arkema will invest EUR300 million over five years in the biosourced polyamide (PA) 11 chain, to increase by 50% its PA11 global production capacities. Though

it did not mention a location, Arkema says over the next five years it will build in Asia a world-scale plant dedicated to producing its castor oil-sourced PA11. The new plant, which will produce both the amino 11 monomer and its polymer, Rilsan PA11, should come on stream in late 2021. Arkema did open a plant in Zhangjiagang, China, for Rilsan in 2013. It will also increase by 50%

its Pebax PA, in particular Pebax RNew of which amino 11 is a key component. With this upcoming plant, Arkema will have a second amino 11 monomer production site, complementing its site in Marseille, France. • German polymer company Covestro is commencing operations at a new EUR20 million production facility for multi-layer flat films

at its Dormagen site in Germany. The films are used in security cards, automotive interiors, medical devices and displays. In 2014, Covestro commissioned a new large-scale facility for TDI foam components there. Last year, a pilot plant was opened that for the first time uses carbon dioxide (CO2) as a raw material for high-grade plastics precursors, thus replacing some of the petroleum.

India to keep pace with petrochemicals/plastics sector


he government of India is planning to set up petrochemical clusters, in Eastern, Western and Southern India to spur the growth of the sector with a view to meeting the increasing demand for polymers/plastics and speciality chemicals across diverse industrial segments, according to Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt. of India, speaking at the 6th edition of the Petrochemicals Conclave forum recently. The current petrochemicals market in India is estimated to be about 30 million tonnes/year. The average domestic per capita consumption of petrochemicals is about 22 kg/person and the average domestic per capita consumption of polymers is about 10 kg/person. The total petrochemicals market in India is currently valued at approximately US$50 billion. Driven by the rise in polymer demand, it is expected to grow at the rate of 9% annually to reach 40 million tonnes/year in consumption and US$65-70 billion in revenues by next year. Of India’s petrochemicals demand, the demand for polyolefins, used in industrial packaging and household plastic products, is estimated to be around 10 million tonnes/year. Expected to grow at a CAGR of almost 8-9%, polyolefin demand in India is expected to reach 22 million tonnes/year by the year 2026. Overall, the petrochemicals market in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 1.5 times that of GDP in the next ten years. India offers many opportunities for the growth of the petrochemicals industry due to the large and growing domestic market, low per capita polymer and

synthetic fibre consumption, expertise in specialised products and availability of trained manpower. While the per capita consumption of polymers has reached saturation levels in US and Europe, India has the advantage of high population and high economic growth projections. This should propel the country’s polymer consumption to new levels in the coming years. India is also set to have ten new plastics parks with an investment of around US$60 million to boost domestic production of plastics. Four of them - one each in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Assam and Tamil Nadu - are under implementation while six more are to come up soon, in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Speaking at the occasion, Nitinbhai Patel, Deputy Chief Minister, Gujarat, said that Gujarat is known as the growth engine of India and is thriving because of the petrochemical industry in the state, backed by the vision of the Prime Minister of India. The annual turnover of the petrochemicals industry in Gujarat is US$800 million, supporting about 500 big industries, 1,600 medium and many small industries Patel added. Sanjiv Singh, Chairman, IndianOil, also said that India is moving towards self-reliance in the petrochemicals sector. The proposed 60-million tonne/year west coast refinery-cum-petrochemical complex is a huge initiative by India to become a major manufacturing hub for petroleum and petrochemical products, comparable to international hubs like Houston, Jurong Island, Antwerp, Shanghai and Rotterdam, he added. AUGUST 2017


Materials News

Biodegradable plastics honed from nature Demand for biodegradable plastics is continuing to build up, with plant-based and organic materials being utilised to develop environmentally-friendly plastics, says Angelica Buan in this report.


he plastics industry has been reinvented to allow for biobased materials as well as post-consumer recyclates. A more environmentally-friendly breed, biodegradable plastics are poised to cap US$21 billion by 2025, increasing from almost US$4 billion in 2016 at a CAGR of 20.8% during the period, citing a report by Coherent Market Insights. Biodegradable plastics are derived from various agricultural products such as starch, cellulose, proteins, and plant oil. The largest bulk of requirement for biodegradable plastic by application is packaging, accounting for more than half of the total market share or 60%. Europe is the material’s largest consumer, owing to the region’s strict regulations on oil-based plastics. It is followed by the US and the Asia Pacific region, with China, India, and the ASEAN countries attributing to the robust growth. Biobased keratin is feather in the EU’s cap A bonanza of initiatives is taking the development of biobased materials to new heights. An EU-funded consortium, Karma2020, is creating a novel twist to discarded poultry feathers and turning them into highly valuable plastic materials. According to the European Commission (EC), feathers from 1 million tonnes of poultry produced in Europe are wasted, with a majority of the feathers that are recycled “converted into low nutritional value animal food or disposed in landfills, causing environmental and health hazards”. Thus, the EUR6.7 billion Karma2020 project aims to develop underutilised waste to create value-added raw materials for the chemical sector such as keratin, bioplastics, flame retardant coatings, non-woven and thermoset biobased resins. The consortium is formed with 16 partners from ten countries, including Grupo Sada (Spain), Teknologian tutkimuskeskus VTT Oy (Finland), Rise Research Institute of Sweden, Centre Scientifique & Technique de L'Industrie Textile Belge (Belgium), Institute of biopolymers and chemical fibres (Poland), Sioen Industries (Belgium), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS (France) and Avantium Chemicals (the Netherlands). Others include FKUR Kunststoff (Germany), Fertiberia (Spain), Vertech Group (France), Ciaotech (Italy), Daren Laboratories & Scientific



The Karma2020 project will convert discarded poultry feathers into valuable plastic materials

Consultants (Israel), Rise Processum (Sweden) as well as Spain’s AIMPLAS. The raw materials derived from the valorisation technology will be manufactured on an industrial scale and used for the production of biobased products, such as slow release fertilisers, biodegradable food packaging plastics, flame retardant coated textiles, and flame retardant thermoset biobased composites. Furthermore, the sustainability of the produced raw material will undergo the Life-cycle Assessment (LCA). As well, the EC says that “an integrated waste management plan will be elaborated to minimise environmental impacts generated by wastes.” Driving off in a PLA car Agricultural waste like rice straws, corn, potato, seeds, husks, grasses and other starchy and sugary crops converted into biomass are not new. A chemical that is often associated with biodegradable materials is polylactic acid (PLA), generally produced from plantbased feedstock such as corn or sugar-cane. Of biodegradable materials, PLA has the largest market share by volume, owing to its easy processability and superior mechanical strength.

Materials News According to the initiators, the hemp and flax were stuck together to a PLA foam core and then a bioresin was sucked into the fibre layers using a vacuum, which produced a very strong girder when hardened.

For the electric car Lina's chassis, sugar-beet PLA is used as the core material and cloaked in flax biocomposite sheets

Research firm Persistence Market Research (PMR) attributes the growth of PLA to the popularity of ecofriendly products and the campaign for pollution control. Compostable PLA has a huge market for applications in the food and beverage and consumer goods packaging, automobiles, agriculture, electronics and textiles sectors. Packaging is usually imputed to PLA, but currently the thermoplastic is also making headway in other industries. PLA is unleashed in the world’s first of its kind composite car developed by students from the Netherland’s Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e). The electric car, called Lina, has a chassis, which is a combination of fibreglass-like biocomposite, and bioplastic. “For the honeycomb structure, PLA is used as the core material and is manufactured entirely from sugar beet. It is enveloped in bio-composite sheets that have been composed from flax, a plant that is also grown in the Netherlands,” the team explained. Lina’s bodywork is also flax-based and interior is made of natural materials. The TU/e team described Lina as an energy-efficient car that weighs in at 300 kg. The four-people-capacity city car has been certified roadworthy by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority. Other features of Lina include a redesigned battery pack from Nova, another biocomposite concept car unveiled in 2015; and the NFC tags in doors, enabling users to unlock Lina with a smartphone. Hemp fibres good for walking on Meanwhile, TU/e also partnered with four other Dutch technology universities namely, TU Delft, University of Twente, and University of Wageningen, to build a sensor-filled footbridge in Eindhoven. The 14-m long biobridge, unveiled in late 2016, is made of hemp and flax fibres.

A 14-m long sensor-filled biobridge in Eindhoven is made of hemp and flax fibres

They reasoned that using a biocomposite in a construction project will reduce dependence on oilbased resources, which is the objective of a circular economy where products and resources are reused. Seaweed water bottle Seaweed and water definitely go hand-in-hand with this innovation by UK-based Skipping Rock Labs. The seaweed-based water pouch looks like a blob that is both biodegradable and edible. Targeting to ease the use of plastic bottles, the gelatine membrane called “Ooho!” is made of sodium alginate from seaweed and calcium chloride, so it is 100% seaweed/plant-based. It biodegrades in 4-6 weeks, just like a piece of fruit; and has a shelf-life of a few days, thus ensuring that the product is fresh.

'Ooho!' is a seaweedderived water pouch made of sodium alginate and calcium chloride



Materials News

Not only is the production cost per capsule cheap (about US$0.02 cents, according to the initiators), but it also emits five times less carbon dioxide and expends nine times less energy than regular PET bottles. The edible product is also versatile – flavouring can be added into it; and it is not limited to containing only plain water. The soft, yet, sturdy packaging can also be used for soft drinks, spirits and cosmetics. Skipping Rocks Lab is part of the Climate KIC startup acceleration programme founded by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and the scientific team is based in Imperial College in London, UK. Higher growth curve for mulch films Biodegradable plastics find their niche in the agriculture sector with mulch films, a market that is, based on India-headquartered Market Research Future (MRFR), projected to exceed US$13 billion by 2022, given the shrinking arable land vis-à-vis rising population, and policies favouring the use of biobased products. Nevertheless, growth of the mulch films market is saddled by high initial costs, MRFR cited. Adding more to the cost is the use of machines to prepare the soil for applying the films. Aiding the growth trajectory of biodgredable films are regulatory frameworks such as that of the European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO), which has recently amended the EC’s proposal for a revision of the Fertilisers Regulation. In doing this, the IMCO Committee acknowledges the potential of biodegradable mulch films, which it says help avoid the generation of microplastics on fields. Meanwhile, Germany-based industry association European Bioplastics (EUBP) said it is backing this support as well as the opinion-giving expert Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) and on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

EUBP furthered that biodegradable mulch films have already had 15 years of market history, “supported by solid scientific and technical knowledge, and meet a high level of acceptance among European farmers.” “Biodegradable mulches deliver positive agronomical effects such as increasing yield, improving quality of crops, weed control, and reduction of water irrigation and pesticides. Moreover, they offer distinctive advantages at the end of the crop cycle as they can be left on the field and ploughed under, which significantly reduces the agricultural plastic waste and potential soil pollution,” said EUBP. EUBP has said the inclusion of biodegradable mulches in the Fertilisers Regulation “will help to harmonise regulations across the EU member states”, adding that the standard is expected to be published by the end of the year and will include complete biodegradation within 24 months as well as an eco-toxicity test. Mushrooms mushrooming to personal/household products It is befitting for environmental awareness to start from home. Hence, biodegradable household products are basic implements to raising the sentience for the environment.

EU's Funguschain project is producing biobased additives extracted from mushroom agrowastes

The use of biodegradable mulch film is supported under the EU's proposed revision of Fertiliser Regulation



Take it from Funguschain, a European project that transforms mushroom waste from commercial farming into bioplastics. Funguschain is a consortium coordinated by Netherlands-based BioDetection Systems (BDS), which consists of 16 partners from ten different European countries, including research institutes and 12 companies that are leaders in biobased economies. The EUR8 million project, funded by the Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, aims at revalorising 65% of agrowastes from mushroom farming residues to extract biobased additives, including antioxidants, antimicrobials and proteins.

Materials News It also aims to convert lipids into bioplasticisers and polysaccharides - glucans and fermentable sugars into biopolymers using the remaining side streams in substrates to close the agricultural cycle by composting and/or biogas synthesis. The project is expected to process Europe’s volume of mushroom wastes, which runs to 60,000 tonnes/week, into valuable additives that can be applied to a broad range of end-user products like household cleaning products, food supplements, biobased thermoplastic masterbatches, bioplasticisers and industrial film products (thin bags and gloves less than 15 microns, partially recycled thick bags more than 50 microns and mulching films). Restructuring DNA of soy and sugar for bioplastics and PC Soy is the focus of an innovation by experts at Spain’s University of Seville and the University of Huelva. The team has obtained a natural bioplastic from soy protein that is capable of absorbing water up to 40 times its own weight; and suited as an alternative for synthetic polymer-made plastics used in hygiene and sanitary products. The team modified soy, which is inherently capable of absorption, to enable it to retain a higher percentage of water, thus classing it as a super-absorbent bioplastic. After extracting protein from soy, the solid compounds are dehydrated using freeze drying, a method that is less aggressive than atomisation and thereby has practically no effect on the protein. The modified isolated compound of the protein is mixed with a plasticiser.

PC is used to make drinks bottles, lenses for glasses and in scratch-resistant coatings for phones, CDs and DVDs. Current manufacture processes for PC use BPA (banned from use in baby bottles) and highly toxic phosgene, used as a chemical weapon in World War One. Bath scientists have made alternative PCs from sugars and carbon dioxide in a new process that also uses low pressures and room temperature, making it cheaper and safer to produce. The resulting plastic has similar physical properties to those derived from petrochemicals, being strong, transparent and scratch-resistant. The crucial difference is that it can be degraded back into carbon dioxide and sugar using the enzymes found in soil bacteria. It is also bio-compatible so could in the future be used for medical implants or as scaffolds for growing replacement organs for transplant.

A new process converts sugar to polycarbonate using carbon dioxide gas (Credit: University of Bath)

Protein from the soy plant is being used to make a superabsorbent bioplastic

In the near future, other crops like cotton will also be explored as a source of super absorbent materials for sanitary and agro-industrial applications, say the researchers. Meanwhile, UK’s University of Bath scientists have created a biodegradable polycarbonate (PC) by adding the sugar found in DNA, called thymidine, as a building block, and carbon dioxide, at room temperature and under low pressure conditions.

PhD student and first author of the articles in the journals Polymer Chemistry and Macromolecules, Georgina Gregory, explained: “Thymidine is one of the units that makes up DNA. Because it is already present in the body, it means this plastic will be bio-compatible and can be used safely for tissue engineering applications. “The properties of this new plastic can be finetuned by tweaking the chemical structure – for example we can make the plastic positively charged so that cells can stick to it, making it useful as a scaffold for tissue engineering.” Such tissue engineering work has already started in collaboration with Dr Ram Sharma from Chemical Engineering, also part of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies (CSCT). The researchers have also looked at using other sugars such as ribose and mannose. AUGUST 2017
















Building and Construction Industry

Building fire-safety: aluminium composites take the heat The type of infill used in building panels plays a crucial role in the combustibility of the panels. The recent fire in London, UK, which affected more than 150 lives, is proof that highly-flammable materials are a bane, says Angelica Buan in this report.


n 14 June, the 24-storey Grenfell Tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London, became a hot topic, literally, but for the wrong reasons. Fire razed the high-rise residential complex and fatally injured nearly a 100 or more people who were trapped in the building. What accelerated the fire, according to reports, was the tower’s rainscreen exterior cladding. The building, built in 1974, had just undergone renovation work in 2016. The £8.7 million-makeover included the addition of windows and a polyethylene (PE)-filled aluminium cladding. Aluminium, while a good heat conductor, is hailed as a “non-combustible construction material”, according to the European Aluminium Association’s Sustainability of Aluminium Buildings report. It explains that the material, which is classified as European Fire Class A1 (non-combustible and the requirement level cannot be combined with any additional class), does not burn. Aluminium may melt when temperature reaches 650°C but will not release harmful gases. Hence, structural parts, such as industrial roofs and external walls, are increasingly being made of thin aluminium cladding panels, so that in the event of a major fire, the panels will melt and allow heat and smoke to escape and minimise damage.

The 24-storey Grenfell Tower fire was reportedly exacerbated by its cladding, an aluminium composite with plastic core

But such is not the case for Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) panels. These are flat sandwich-type panels made from two sheets of aluminium and a non-aluminium insulating core, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS), polyurethane (PU) or PE, or mineral-based cores. Often used for external claddings or facade materials, ACMs are lightweight yet sturdy; and the metal sheets can be painted in different colours.



Building and Construction Industry Not fireproof The polymer-filled panels are flammable and the melting plastic quickens the spread of the fire. In addition, the installation on the Grenfell Tower left a 50 mm gap between the cladding and the insulation behind it. The ventilated cavity assisted in spreading the fire faster. The UK government has sought an independent expert panel, the Building Research Establishment (BRE), to carry out tests that would determine how different types of ACM panels with different types of insulation behave in a fire, according to an early July statement by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

China's Beijing Mandarin hotel, fitted with foam-filled exterior cladding, was also brought down by fire in 2009

A fire also brought down the 23-storey mixeduse Lacrosse building in Australia; while scores of other buildings cloaked in combustible exterior panels may also be at risk of fires. Despite warnings from stakeholders, ACM claddings are still being used. For project handlers of the Grenfell upgrade, who allegedly opted to install the material that is cheaper by £2 per sq m and the non-fire rated Reynobond PE panel, instead of the fire-retardant Reynobond FR, the message conveyed was that cost-cutting took precedence over safety.

Shown here is a sample of the cladding, used in buildings nearby Grenfell Tower, that has also been tested

The testing process aims to identify whether the submitted ACM cladding sample meets the limited combustibility requirements of current building regulations. Meanwhile, the samples taken from 75 other buildings reportedly failed the fire retardancy tests. Lessons unlearnt It was not the first time that ACM was highlighted as a denominator in building fires worldwide. Similar events linked to ACM with plastic cores also occurred in Dubai in 2016 with The Address, then the country’s 18 th tallest skyscraper; and in previous years there were other fires that involved buildings built before 2012. This was when compliance to the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice on Fire Performance of Aluminium Composite Panel, which was then in vogue, was mandatory. In China, flames exacerbated by foam-filled exterior cladding engulfed the 159-m tall Beijing Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 2009; and an eightstorey apartment building in 2010, resulting in injuries and deaths.

ACM and suppliers take the heat Aluminium, a precious metal that was commercially produced in 1886, has become an industrial material for civil applications since the 1950s. It gained fame in 1898 when it was used as cladding for the dome of San Gioacchino’s Church in Rome, Italy. Aluminium, a precious metal which was commercially produced in 1886, has become an industrial material for civil applications since the 1950s



Building and Construction Industry Its application has expanded through the years and today, aluminium stands as one of the most sought after materials for building and construction, bringing in a rife of benefits. These include energy efficiency, low maintenance, design flexibility, corrosion resistance, and high strength to weight ratio, to mention a few. Its cradle-to-cradle life cycle also makes it environmental friendly. The ACM market is envisaged to reach US$8.26 billion by 2025, induced by the brisk growth of the construction and infrastructure industries, especially in the emerging regions where urbanisation and rise in population are evident, Research and Markets cited in its latest market report. This projection could swerve, especially since ACM is once again put on spot. Arconic, a major player in building and construction engineered materials, has said that it is ceasing global sales of its Reynobond PE for use in high-rise buildings, especially when its shares slipped down by 11% following its disclosure that it supplied the cladding to the ill-fated tower in the UK.

Arconic's Reynobond was installed on the ill-fated London tower

Arconic, which is currently embroiled in the Grenfell fire episode, also finds that the integrity of some of its products is under scrutiny. In a related incident, aviation firm Boeing grounded its new 737 Max jetliner due to an engine part produced by Arconic. In a statement it released, US-headquartered Arconic admitted to supplying its Reynobond PE to a fabricator that used the material as a component of the overall cladding system on Grenfell Tower. However, it stressed that it “neither was involved in the installation of the system, nor had a role in any other aspect of the building’s refurbishment or original design”. It said that current regulations within the US, Europe and the UK permit the use of aluminium composite material in various architectural applications, including in high-rise buildings depending on the cladding system and overall building design. “Our product is one component in the overall cladding system; we don’t control the overall system or its compliance.”



Likewise, responding in the same manner was Celotex who decided to halt supply of its RS5000 insulation for buildings above 18 m high. The insulation formed part of the Grenfell rainscreen cladding. Celotex, a Suffolk-headquartered Saint Gobain company and manufacturer of rigid board insulation, also explained in its online statement: “(the insulation product) has a fire rating classification of Class 0, in accordance with British Standards”. The Class 0 materials shield surfaces from the spread of flames as well as limits the amount of heat released from the surface during a fire. “Celotex RS5000 is the insulation component specifically tested as part of a system to British Standard BS8414-2:2005. When the system is designed and installed in line with this, RS5000 meets the criteria set out in BRE Report BR 135 Fire performance of external thermal insulation for walls of multi-storey buildings,” stated Celotex. Another company, CEP Architectural Facades, in defence of its role in the refurbishment of the tower has passed the buck to Arconic as the manufacturer of the aluminium panel. In its online statement published 23 June, it wrote that “CEP fabricated the two components in the building’s cladding system (rainscreen panels and windows) using materials, and to a design, specified by the Grenfell Tower design and build team”. Meanwhile, 3A Composites, the manufacturer of Alcubond denied any involvement in the tower renovation and issued a statement to clarify that “Alcubond was not the cladding used on the Grenfell Tower”. It further added that “systems using Alucobond Plus have successfully completed NFPA 285 multi-storey fire tests”. The standardised fire test procedure under the NFPA 285 evaluates the suitability of exterior, nonload bearing wall assemblies and panels that use combustible materials or that incorporate combustible components for installation on buildings where the exterior walls are required to be non-combustible. The Swiss panels company produces Alcubond A2, which it claims to be the “only non-combustible aluminium composite panel” for architectural applications because of the 2-3 mm mineral-filled core sandwiched between 0.5 mm aluminium sheets.

3A Composites's Alcubond A2 has 2-3 mm mineral-filled core sandwiched between 0.5 mm aluminium sheets

Building and Construction Industry Fire-safety, a priority Grenfell Tower acted as a catalyst for various countries to revisit their buildings and construction materials regulations, and check on their structural integrity. In the UK alone, an estimated 30,000 buildings are found to be installed with flammable claddings. Belgium-headquartered Fire Safe Europe (FSE) says that high-rise buildings are subject to stricter fire requirements than low-rise buildings or family homes because “the taller the building, the more complicated it is to escape.” In its analysis of high-rise residential buildings’ requirements in 16 countries, FSE found that three countries, namely the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece, have no requirements for individual products used in the facade system but focus on the performance of the entire system. Moreover, these countries mentioned “do not have a fire-safety test for facades based on real-life, large-scale situations”, analysed FSE. In a similar vein, England and Sweden allow the use of products that do not meet the product requirement “if the entire system passes a national large-scale test”. Meanwhile, the other 11 countries follow stringent requirements for the combustibility of the products used in a building facade. The standards range from limited combustibility (B s3, d0) to Non-combustible (A2 s1, d0); with the most fire-safe products classified under A, and the least or most combustible, classified under E. Asia’s take on fire safety precautions for high rises Across the globe, the endemic laxity on building material requirements has become more glaring than ever. In Asia, citing data mentioned in the 2016 review report of The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the region had built 107 super high rise buildings (or scaling above 200 m) out of the recorded 128 completions globally, accounting for 84% of the total for the year. China recorded the most number of super high rises in the region, accounting for 84 completions for the reviewed year. While China, mirroring the growing Asian urbanisation, is on a building spree of modern, sustainable skyscrapers, materials used are posing challenges. In a paper presented at a Chinese fire safety symposium held in 2012, authors Lei Peng, Zhaopeng Ni, and Xin Huang of the Tianjin Fire Research Institute stated that “the use of combustible exterior wall cladding systems has been largely increased, because the systems have great advantages to reduce energy consumption.” This, they said, also raised concerns on fire risks through facades in high-rise buildings. The paper specified the building fires that occurred in China involved exterior claddings with thermoplastic infill, which contributed to the progression of the fire

spreading not only upwards but also downwards. The Chinese authors furthered: “The fire ignited the external wall claddings from external fire sources rather than from flames and hot gases projected from windows, unlike a normal development progress.” In China, building products are traditionally classified based on combustibility, according to the Chinese standard GB 8624-199 and under four classes, namely: A (non-combustible), B1 (difficultcombustible), B2 (normal-combustible), and B3 (easycombustible). This classification is still adhered to, even though a latest classification has already succeeded it, the GB 8624-2006. The latter has seven classes, and is based on the European classification system EN 13501-1 for reaction to fire performance of building products. Thus, it now includes classes A1, A2, and B to F. Two separate code sets are applied, depending on the height of the building. Nonetheless, both codes have requirements on the fire resistance rating (FRR) for exterior walls. Over in Malaysia, fire-safety of construction materials, especially used for building exteriors, has come under scrutiny. In an earlier report, it was said that some building are likely installed with combustible exterior layers since Malaysia does not have a fire rating mechanism in place. Malaysia’s Fire and Rescue Department chief, Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim, alleged that materials used in certain structural exteriors could have been passed off as higher-quality non-flammable cladding. The department chief avers that while tests on surface fire spread are conducted on foam-infill ACM panels, there is no clear-cut measure to distinguish which is a high quality ACM and which is inferior. The bottom-line is that mishaps from use of materials that are either not fire-rated, not suitable for a specific project, or of low quality, are a wake-up call for the industry: in noting how vigilant it is in ensuring that public safety is non-negotiable.

China is home to the most number of super high rises in Asia, such as the 632-m Shanghai Tower shown here AUGUST 2017


Medical Industry

Having a heart for polymers Polymeric materials, with their broad range of properties, are ushering in advancements for cardiovascular devices, says Angelica Buan in this article.

ETH researchers have developed a silicone heart that beats almost like a human heart




ike a thief in the night”, that is how cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are epitomised, bringing havoc to patients unexpectedly and silently. CVDs are the number one cause of death globally, says the World Health Organisation (WHO) that accounts more deaths linked to CVDs than from any other causes. CVDs, defined as conditions involving the heart and circulation, are preventable with lifestyle changes and managing risk factors; and if interventions are prescribed, there is an array of cardiovascular treatment modalities available today. The global cardiovascular device market is expected to achieve close to US$70 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 4.3% from 2017, according to the report period covered by US market research firm Lucintel. It also noted the rising demand for portable heart monitoring devices, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) procedures, and bioresorbable stents – devices which we would not have thought of having 40 years ago when the first angioplasty was performed, and which thereafter have become a common medical intervention. Also in demand is cardiovascular equipment such as catheters, balloons, stents, and others. Moreover, new materials, specifically polymers, are being engineered for more efficient, more biocompatible, and more cost-effective cardiovascular devices applications. The surgical devices segment is further categorised as pacemakers, stents, catheters and accessories, guide wires, cannulae, electrosurgical procedures, valves, and occlusion devices. The stent segment, among other surgical devices, accounted for the largest market share in 2015. Preference for stents over bypass surgeries is primarily driving their dominance. Furthermore, rising demand for minimally invasive surgeries is increasing the application of stents in the treatment of coronary artery disease. Potential for a cloned silicone heart We only have one heart, but with today’s technology, who says we cannot duplicate it? The Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zurich in Switzerland has created a prototype heart made of silicone using a 3D printing lost-wax casting technique. It weighs 390 g and has a volume of 679 cu cm. Resembling a real, human heart, which “beats, with right and left ventricles; and a central chamber”, the silicone heart still falls short to substituting a real heart. For one, the material of this model heart – a silicone monoblock, degrades after 3,000 beats (corresponding to 45 minutes), after which, the material can no longer withstand the strain. Development of the synthetic heart was undertaken by Nicholas Cohrs, a doctoral student in the group led by Professor Wendelin Stark at ETH Zurich. The team remarked: “The reasoning why nature should be used as a model is clear. Currently used blood pumps have many disadvantages - their mechanical parts are susceptible to complications while the patient lacks a

Medical Industry physiological pulse, which is assumed to have some consequences for the patient”. A well-functioning artificial heart is a real necessity: about 26 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure while there is a shortage of donor hearts. Artificial blood pumps help to bridge the waiting time until a patient receives a donor heart or their own heart recovers. Drug-coated stents to facilitate treatment The high rate of artery diseases is a growth driver for the global drug eluting stent (DES) market, estimated to reach US$9.2 billion by 2024, according to a report by Grand View Research. DES is a small mesh tub with polymer coating that releases a drug over time to prevent growth of tissue scar in the coronary lining. Ireland-based medical device company Medtronic offers Resolute Onyx DES, which is US FDA-approved. Marketed in the US (and also available in Europe and other countries that recognise the CE or Conformité Européene mark), Medtronic’s DES is the first of its kind available in 4.5 mm and 5 mm sizes, which enable treatment for patients with large coronary anatomies, while the stent’s enhanced visibility and exceptional deliverability further differentiates it from other drug-eluting stents on the market. In its press statement released in May, Medtronic commented: “As stent technologies continue to evolve, recent clinical studies have shown that newer technologies have not established a clinical advantage over durable polymer DES. The Resolute Onyx DES provides physicians with additional 4.5 mm and 5.0 mm sizes to treat patients with large coronary anatomies.” The Resolute Onyx DES is, according to Medtronic, the first and only DES to feature Core Wire Technology, an evolution of Continuous Sinusoid Technology (CST). CST is a unique Medtronic method of stent manufacturing,

The Resolute Onyx DES from Medtronic features Core Wire Technology and uses its proprietary BioLinx polymer technology

which involves forming a single strand of cobalt alloy wire into a sinusoidal wave to construct a stent. This enables greater deliverability and conformability to the vessel wall. With Core Wire Technology, a radiopaque inner core is incorporated within the cobalt alloy wire to enhance visibility for accurate stent placement. Core Wire Technology also enables thinner struts while maintaining structural strength. It also uses the BioLinx polymer technology, a proprietary new biocompatible polymer developed by Medtronic scientists. BioLinx is the first polymer created specifically for use on a drug-eluting stent. The BioLinx polymer features a unique blend of hydrophilic and hydrophobic elements, allowing rapid endothelial healing with minimal inflammation and low risk of stent thrombosis. Extensive preclinical studies have established the biocompatibility and drug delivery capabilities of the BioLinx polymer, says the company. Biomedical polymers that can be absorbed by the body A breakthrough in implants, staples and scaffold designs, bioabsorbable polymers consist of polymeric materials or devices that eventually dissolve and are absorbed by the body, and therefore eliminate second surgery for removal, which not only adds to cost but also triggers risk of complications, e.g., infection. For the polymeric material, both natural polymers such as proteins and polysaccharides that degrade by enzymatic hydrolysis, as well as synthetic polymers, which do not require enzymatic hydrolysis, are used. The types of bioabsorbable polymers include polyglycolic acid (PGA), polylactic acid (PLA), copolymers and self-reinforcing (SR) composites, to cite the more commonly used types. In a cutting-edge application for biobsorbable polymers, Swiss-Dutch clinical stage company Xeltis developed the world’s first bioabsorbable heart valves and vessels to allow Endogenous Tissue Restoration (ETR). ETR enables the patient's own body to naturally restore a heart valve that is defective or no longer works. According to Xeltis, the bioabsorbable polymers used for their products are structured as a porous matrix that is designed to work as a valve or other cardiovascular component once implanted. “As the natural cardiovascular part forms, the matrix is structured to be absorbed and to leave the patients with their own healthy tissue,” it explained. The company has launched trial studies, and the positive results showed the potential of the bioabsorbable technology for several different cardiovascular applications. Experts at Xeltis expressed confidence that bioabsorbable AUGUST 2017


Medical Industry plaque progression and inflammation, thus barring arterial thrombosis, ischemia, myocardial infarction, and stroke. This innovative nanopolymer has several advantages: it targets only damaged tissue and does not harm healthy tissue. At present, there are several available treatment options for atherosclerosis, but no other therapy reverses arterial damage and improves the heart muscle. Moreover, the polymer has no side effects, unlike statins, which are currently the leading medication used for treating atherosclerosis, BGU said.

Xeltis's RestoreX is a polymer-based platform that enables natural heart valve restoration

cardiovascular devices will be able to replace most commonly used implantable devices, and that ETR will improve patient outcomes while reducing the economic burden for healthcare systems. Meanwhile, the company reported recently at a paediatric cardiology summit held in Spain the progression of the ETC clinic trials involving its RestoreX technology. RestoreX is Xeltis’s polymer-based platform that enables natural heart valve restoration. It is based on 1987 Nobel Prize for Chemistry awardee Jean-Marie Lehn’s principles of supramolecular chemistry or electrospinning supramolecular polymers with the use of electric force to draw supramolecular polymer solutions into threads that measure a fraction of the diameter of a hair. Treading the same pathway of developing polymer-based heart treatments, researchers at the Ben-Gurion University (BGU) and Sheba Medical Centre in Israel developed a novel therapy to treat atherosclerosis, a condition characterised by the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Endothelium is a thin layer of cells lining the arteries to keep them smooth and maintain blood flow. Smoking, high blood pressure and high levels of blood cholesterol are conditions that can damage the endothelium, leading to atherosclerosis or the abnormal build-up of plaque along the arteries. When endothelial cells experience inflammation, they produce a molecule called E-selectin, which brings white blood cells (monocytes) to the area and causes plaque accumulation in the arteries. BGU’s E-selectin-targeting polymer is said to reduce existing plaque and prevent further



A nanopolymer therapy for atherosclerosis is being developed by researchers at BGU

Patented and in preclinical stage, the new polymer has been tested on mice with positive results. In a study that has been submitted for publication, the researchers treated atherosclerotic mice with four injections of the new biomedical polymer and tested the change in their arteries after four weeks. The results showed that the myocardial function of the treated mice was greatly improved; there was less inflammation and a significant decrease in the thickness of the arteries. Experts at the Cardiovascular Research Institute of the Sheba Medical Centre and at Tel Aviv University suggested that this polymeric therapy can also be helpful to people with diabetes, hypertension and other age-related conditions. With positive turn out of studies, the team is seeking a pharmaceutical company to bring the polymer therapy through the next stages of drug development and for commercialisation.


Uncovering the recovery of PVC Polyvinylchloride or PVC, which has gained popular use in a stack of applications, has stayed in the circular economy loop due to its recyclability factor, says Angelica Buan in this article.


he plastic waste crisis has seen a fete of toxic chemical-laden materials and non-biodegradables choking the environment. PVC is one of those materials that make up the current volume estimate of 6,300 million tonnes of waste plastics generated globally. Pure PVC is said to be brittle and rigid. It is made bendable and flexible by adding plasticisers such as phthalates – a class of chemicals that has earned notoriety from several studies linking exposure to it to a slew of health conditions such as respiratory ailments, cancers, behavioural issues, neurological disorders, fertility issues and more. Chlorine and harmful metals, such as cadmium and lead, are also present in PVC. Notwithstanding that, PVC during manufacture and disposal releases a noxious, carcinogenic chemical called dioxin. Yet, PVC is the third widely used plastic after polyethylene (PET) and polypropylene (PP). Giving credit where credit is due, PVC possesses high mechanical and hardness properties; it is versatile and is suitable for a wide range of applications, including construction materials, furniture, clothing, healthcare devices, flooring, packaging and other consumer products. PVC is also suitable to replacing rubber in certain applications, including electrical cable insulation, plumbing, inflatable products and more. Given the universality of PVC, it is no wonder that its market value continues to balloon. A market report by Zion Market Research states that the global PVC market is expected to cross US$78.9 billion in 2021 from US$57 billion in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 5.6% during the report period.

RecoCard: recycling PVC gift cards Amid the growing quantity of PVC being used, the waste generated, from end-of-life PVC products, is not far behind. Nevertheless, PVC waste does not necessarily end up in landfills. As with any other waste plastics, waste management and recycling are undertaken. PVC can be managed and recycled mechanically or the material can be reduced into small fragments to be melted and remoulded into different products. Meanwhile, feedstock recycling is done via chemical processes such as pyrolysis, hydrolysis and heating to convert waste into its chemical components such as sodium chloride, calcium chloride, hydrocarbon products, heavy metals, and others, or for energy recovery. In a recent undertaking demonstrating the recyclability of PVC, the British Plastics Federation (BPF) and resource recovery specialist, Axion Consulting, recycled about 1 million used PVC store gift cards through a project they launched, called RecoCard. The PVC, third widely used plastic after PET and PP, is suitable for pioneering trial of the said project yielded posta wide range of applications, including construction materials, consumer materials for use in new products, such furniture, clothing, healthcare devices, flooring, packaging and as pipes. other consumer products AUGUST 2017


Recycling Meanwhile, Dero also highlighted the development of an Additives Sustainability Framework (ASF), which she explained is a new science-based system for assessing the sustainable use of additives in PVC products. For the ASF, VinylPlus Additives Task Force worked with Sweden-based non-profit sustainability organisation The Natural Step (TNS) to develop a “systematic framework to evaluate the use of substances utilised as additives in PVC products from the perspective of sustainable development”. ASF started work with PVC window profiles in 2016, and will continue with flexible applications in 2017.

Outdated PVC gift cards are recycled through the RecoCard programme of BPF and Axion

Each year, the UK produces an estimated 2 billion PVC cards, equivalent to 2,500 tonnes. The used cards that end up in landfills do not biodegrade, the partners said. Hatching a Green Gift Card initiative with retailer partner, Jellyfish Livewire, a Hampshirebased digital marketing agency and gift card producer, a take-back scheme and specialist recycling system have been conjured. About 25 pallets of the old PVC items and other plastic cards were manually sorted by material types. The PVC cards were recycled into granules to make irrigation pipes. The successful processing of the PVC store cards thwarted about 10 tonnes of plastic from being landfilled. The project is eyeing investment in a recycling infrastructure, which will include a collection hub for PVC cards. VinylPlus: sussing out additives in PVC Another EU-based initiative is VinylPlus, a voluntary sustainable development programme of the European PVC industry. The ten-year programme, which spun from its predecessor, Vinyl2010, aims at a long-term sustainability framework for the entire PVC value chain. Its regional scope includes the EU-28 plus Norway and Switzerland. VinylPlus espouses recycling of PVC, “where it brings environmental benefits and is economically viable, as it is a highly recyclable material,” it stated. In 2016, VinylPlus recycled almost 600,000 tonnes of PVC. This was disclosed by VinylPlus General Manager Brigitte Dero during a conference held in April in Brighton. She added that a cumulative total of more than 3.5 million tonnes of PVC has been recycled since 2000 via VinylPlus, with the largest volumes coming from window profiles, followed by cables and flexible applications, pipes and fittings. By 2020, the programme is targeting to recycle 800,000 tonnes/year.



Healthy sector for recycling PVC medical devices PVC is also widely used in the healthcare sector, owing to the material’s flexibility, making it suitable for applications like blood bags or tubing; strength, durability, and chemical stability. PVC also enables low cost of manufacturing as well as maintenance costs of medical equipment. It is also sterilisable and biocompatible. On the flip side, the sector is also a significant contributor to the increasing waste generation in the healthcare sector globally. Thus, recycling is suggested if sustainability is in the game.

RecoMed involves the collection of used PVC medical devices including IV solution bags, nasal cannula, oxygen tubes, anaesthetic masks and oxygen masks for recycling

From PVC gift cards, profiles and flexible applications, BPF and Axion collaborated on the national RecoMed PVC collection scheme for single-use waste PVC medical devices. The take-back initiative is currently adopted in ten hospitals across Britain. It aims to recover high quality plastics, keep devices out of landfill, and cut disposal costs, according to Axion. Started in 2010, RecoMed involves the collection of used PVC medical devices including IV solution bags, nasal cannula, oxygen tubes, anaesthetic masks and oxygen masks, according to BPF. The scheme aims to recover materials from the estimated 2,250 tonnes/year or more of PVC waste that is generated by around 1,500 hospitals in the UK.

Recycling For participating hospitals, RecoMed provides support such as liaising with recyclers, registering scheme participants, bins and bin collection, promotional material, and hospital staff training. Window to sustainability PVC and its rigid, unplasticised native uPVC are propelling market growth for windows and doors. uPVC is preferred over aluminium and wood for its lower weight, fully recyclable property, lesser maintenance, and thermal insulation, stated Global Market Insights in its report spanning to 2024. By then, the market size would have racked up a value of US$137.2 billion. In some European countries, PVC/uPVC windows are preferred over conventional materials like wood, metal or a combination of both. German firm Ceresana, in its study of uPVC use in Europe, finds that in Poland, Russia, and Turkey, more than 65% of windows have PVC frames. It crosses the 70% market share mark in Finland, Norway and Sweden. In some other parts of Europe, PVC is used in combination with other conventional materials. The high use of PVC/uPVC runs the likelihood of more of this plastic type ending up in waste streams, if not properly managed or recycled. In Europe alone, about 1,000 companies are engaged in plastic recycling and several players are further actively engaged in recycling PVC windows. Dekura, a UK-based uPVC recycling joint venture between German plastics processor Rehau and recycler Tönsmeier Kunststoffe, reprocesses more than half of the available uPVC waste in the UK. Rehau takes back PVC waste from fabricators and window makers, to be used in producing new windows. Another recycler, Eurocell, through its recycling division, Merritt Plastics, upcycles old uPVC windows and doors, and recovers other recyclable materials, such as metals used in producing new windows and doors. Ecoplas, one of UK’s largest uPVC recyclers, handles around 50,000 tonnes/year of waste uPVC, and produces a comprehensive range of products from window-grade material for the extrusion industry.

Europe is actively engaged in reprocessing PVC material through its recyclers

The process involves converting waste uPVC into granules, powder or pellets and reintroducing these into the extrusion process with the intention of returning recycled material back to the original producer. Meanwhile, in the US, where PVC recycling is not as extensively practiced as in Europe, plastic recycling is closely being watched. The Washington-headquartered Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) recently expressed that it is considering adding on new specifications for PVC plastic recyclables. ISRI is a non-profit trade association representing more than 1,300 companies in 21 chapters in the US and 35 countries that process, broker, and consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics, and textiles. It explained that these specifications are intended to cover more of the plastic recyclables that are actively traded in the scrap plastics marketplace.

Material specifications have been added in the revised ISRI guidelines for uPVC window profiles recycling

Part of its additional specification included in its draft is on uPVC window profiles, referred to as typically consisting of window and door frames and sourced primarily from door and window manufacturers. The rigid PVC does not contain plasticiser and will typically measure above 65 on the Shore D scale. The draft has enumerated materials that it allows and disallows in recycling uPVC window profiles, to safeguard against contamination. Glass, metal, PET plastic, lead or cadmium stabilised rigid PVC materials, used household soil or waste plumbing lines with visible bioresidue, are just a few restricted materials mentioned. Thus, though its good name has been sullied in the industry, by virtue of the use of phthalates, PVC’s versatility is not lost on plastic product makers who seek out the material for its properties. However, it is hoped that the recycling of the material will give it a better profile in the industry and with the public at large. AUGUST 2017



Driven by innovation Austrian extrusion/thermoforming machine maker battenfeld-cincinnati’s new motto “driven by innovation” is the driving force behind the company’s equipment and services. Exhibiting at Chinaplas in May this year, battenfeld-cincinnati China presented energy and material-saving extrusion equipment in pipe and thermoforming sheet production. PRA caught up with Toni Bernards, CEO of battenfeld-cincinnati China, to learn more.

PRA: Industry 4.0 is expected to become mainstream in industries, and in China, it is the “Made in China 2025”. How does battenfeld-cincinnati position itself in this developing trend, especially in China? Bernards: Industry 4.0 offers every plastics processor the opportunity to run its extrusion equipment with maximum efficiency. For this reason, battenfeldcincinnati has created a new control system, the BCtouch UX (UX stands for “user experience”). We first presented the control last year at K2016 in Germany. At Chinaplas 2017, we showed the BCtouch UX control in China for the first time. Mobile operating terminal with the new BCtouch UX control was shown for the first time in China



Toni Bernards, CEO of battenfeld-cincinnati China, says that in 2016 the company’s order intake increased by 35%, compared to 2015

The BCtouch UX control system has advanced functions that support efficient production planning and preventive maintenance intervals. All process parameters are monitored centrally. Line operators can carry out energy monitoring and calculate energy diagrams over time, based on freely selectable production parameters. This makes it possible to find an operating point where the line can be run with optimal resource efficiency in terms of both material and energy consumption. Maintenance intervals for all line components are recorded in the control system. This supports necessary preventive maintenance actions, thus increasing line uptime and consequently overall efficiency. Fully in keeping with the industry 4.0 concept and the control system’s facilities for communicating with other units, generally described as “connectivity”, all line and process parameters included and evaluated in the system can be centrally tapped by an ERP system. For this purpose, the battenfeldcincinnati OPC-UA server provides a future-proof interface for vertical integration of the line at the customer’s plant. In addition to on-site operation, BCtouch UX also supports an alarm system via Internet or Intranet, with data of definable line statuses being transmitted to mobile units either by LAN/WIFI or by UMTS/LTE, according to the customer’s choice.

Pipes/Profiles PRA: The solEX 60-40-C extruder with the new BCtouch UX control is suitable for Industry 4.0 applications? Bernards: T he BCtouch UX control offers the features needed to be used for industry 4.0 applications. The control has a large 21.5� multi-touch display in landscape format, with the well-known swivel-and-tilt functionality from battenfeldcincinnati. It is easy to use with multitouch zoom, move and slide functions that users are familiar with from solEX 60-40operating tablets or mobile phones. C extruder With the new cockpit view, the with the new process status of the complete line BCtouch UX can be viewed at a glance. The control design of the overview page and the navigation through the menu are derived directly from the line configuration. Additional terminals can be integrated into the line as well. PRA: Please provide a round-up of the Chinese market growth for battenfeldcincinnati in China since the set-up of the company 21 years ago. Bernards: S ince its foundation in 1996, battenfeld-cincinnati China has developed very positively. Sales and order intake have continually increased. In 2016, for example, our order intake increased by 35% compared to 2015. Today, we have 130 employees and contribute about 25% to the sales of the battenfeld-cincinnati group of companies. At first, we focused only on the Chinese market, but now we have export rates of around 30% per year. The main export markets are Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Over the past few years, the market for extruded products has developed significantly, both in terms of volume and of quality. In the beginning, we focused on the small, high-quality segment, but now there is growing demand for high-quality pipes and profiles in China and thus for the right equipment to produce it. We have therefore adapted our machine portfolio continuously to market needs over the years. We have a very broad customer base in China: about 90% of customers are small, local processors that want to gain a competitive advantage from advanced extrusion technology. The remaining 10% of customers are companies operating on a global scale that are often already familiar with the battenfeld-cincinnati brand.

Pipes/Profiles PRA: Apart from the solEX 60-40 extruder shown at Chinaplas this year, what technologies are being offered by battenfeld-cincinnati in Asia, including China? What are the latest technologies developed? Bernards: We offer complete pipe extrusion lines for mono and multi-layer PO, PVC and PE-RT pipes, profile extrusion lines for window main profiles or small technical profiles and pelletising lines, as well as extrusion lines for thermoforming sheet production. The latter are offered as hybrid lines, for which some components are supplied from Europe. Our proven product range includes solEX, uniEX and leanEX single screw extruders, helix PO pipe heads, twinEX and conEX twin screw extruders, spider PVC pipe heads, as well as complete downstream equipment and state-ofthe-art controls. At this year’s Chinaplas, we premiered the first leanEX twin screw extruder for pipe at an Open House at our factory. The leanEX name is assigned to our turnkey extruders and lines for standard pipe extrusion. These feature high outputs, high line speeds and a high degree of automation. A LeanEX C1-60-30 extruder was also shown at the stand at Chinaplas

The new leanEX 2-93R-28-CL with 28 L/D has an extremely robust design and energy-efficient components. The heart of the extruder, the screw, is made in Europe. Outputs range from 200-580 kg/ hour. The leanEX 2-93R-28-CL extruder comes with a “BC compact” control. This control offers all standard functions and has an intuitive 12” touch screen with a modern screen design. It can also be integrated into MES/ERP systems.



One further new development shown at our Open House was a production line for three-layer glassfibre-reinforced PP-R pipes. These pipes are used for hot and cold water transport. We extruded them with an output of 350 kg/hour and a line speed of 3.95 m/min. We also showcased our uniEX single screw extruders and a helix 3-layer pipe head, as well as a standalone BMCtouch control terminal. PRA: What is your forecast of industries/ markets/applications poised to become (or will continue to be) the growth industry for the future? Bernards: We still see growth potential in the infrastructure and construction segment for pipes and profiles. The requirements for these products have increased steadily both in terms of the quality and the complexity of the product. There are higher standards for materials, production and endproducts, and more demand for multi-layer applications that offer better properties thanks to additional functional layers. We also see a growth in the packaging market that is currently booming all over the world. The demand is for high-quality packaging that offers protection and long shelf life for the packaged goods. High-quality food packaging offers protection, long shelf life and easier transportation for packaged goods. Battenfeld-cincinnati also offers equipment for this demanding market. The combination of highspeed extruders and the innovative Multi-Touch roll stack is ideal for excellent product quality despite high line speeds. Due to their high outputs, one of these lines can replace several conventional lines, saving space, operating and maintenance costs. High-speed extruders offer 15-25% energy savings compared to conventional systems as well as lower material consumption and increased production times. MultiTouch roll stacks ensure perfectly flat, stress-free sheet and a high transparency, particularly for PP products.

Injection Moulding Asia Hot Runners

Optimising high performance polymer moulding These resins are temperature and residence time sensitive meaning that the material will degrade if exposed to heat for extended period of time. The total runner volume in the hot runner system should not exceed a few shots for this reason. The injection moulding machine should be sized in such a way that the total shot-weight of the parts is about 70% of the machine shot capacity, therefore the molten plastic will not remain in the barrel over numerous cycles. Due to a lack of understanding of the above mentioned criteria, cold-runner technology has been primarily used to mould parts from high-temperature polymers (see Figure 1).

When moulding high-temperature polymers,

direct-gating with a hot runner system can save

moulders time and money, says Mohammad Rafi, BASc, Applications Engineer at Husky Injection Molding Systems.


ot runner systems Classsification of Plastics amorphous semi-crystalline were introduced in the 1960s to mould PI commodity polymers such as polypropylene High PAI PEKEKK (PP), polyethylene PEEK, PEK temperature LCP, PPS Plastic (PE) and polystyrene PES, PPSU PTFE, PFA (PS). Since that time 300 C PEI, PSU ETFE, PCTFE technology innovations PPP, PC,-HT PVDF have improved the capabilities of hot PA 46 Engineering runner systems. PC PET, PBT Plastic The industry has PA 6-3-T PA 6, PA 11, PA 12 POM evolved from hot 150 C PMP runners direct-gating parts moulded from PPE mod. commodity polymers Standard to hot runner systems PMMA PP Plastic producing parts from PE 100 C engineering polymers, PS, ABS, SAN Long term service such as polycarbonate temperature (PC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polyoxymethylene (POM) - also known as acetal, polyacetal Figure 1: Classification of polymers and polyformaldehyde. (courtesy of Ensigner-Online) Engineering resins are high-strength plastic materials that have superior Producing parts with a cold runner could be mechanical and thermal properties over commodity unnecessary as engineering resins are expensive plastics. They are often resistant to high temperatures, and in many cases the cold runners cannot wear and corrosion. be reground and recycled. Any cold runner applications that are currently using engineering Catering to engineering resins polymers could benefit from a switch to a hot For engineering or high temperature polymer runner system. Converting production from a cold applications, care must be taken to ensure that the hot runner to a hot runner and direct-gating highrunner manifold is thermally stable with : temperature polymer plastic parts can yield a i) no dead spots or areas where the material savings of up to 50%, which includes savings from can sit and degrade resin waste, energy, labour and the mould. ii) without hot or cold spots 1 AU G U ST 2 017

Injection Moulding Asia Hot Runners Processing high-temperature polymers The single drop offset hot runner A key development in the moulding of highconsisted of a valve gate nozzle with temperature polymers was the introduction of a VX Tip gate style (see Figure 3). polyaryletherketones (PAEK), a family of semiThe VX gate has no material crystalline thermoplastics with high-temperatures. insulation area and conducts Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) belongs to this heat into the gate through family and is one of the more popular engineering the nozzle and thereby resins because of its thermal stability (viable at keeps it warm as temperatures of up to 260ºC), high strength-toneeded for semiweight ratio, resistance to impact, chemicals and crystalline resins radiation and dimensional stability. This makes it such as PEEK. Figure 3: an optimal choice for complex part geometries with PEEK grades VX tip gate for thin cross-sections. are semisemi-crystalline resins To help demonstrate the importance of these crystalline resin and hot runner developments, consider the thermoplastics processing requirements and issues that were with melt temperatures in the range of 350º-400ºC encountered when moulding a mobile device and the mould temperature in the range of housing (back cover). These parts were produced 150º-200ºC. Since the processing temperatures with a PEEK/PAEKfor PEEK resins are high, grade resin ideal for the hot runner system molding thin-wall parts including the heated with high strength and manifold and nozzle, must stiffness requirements. be capable of maintaining This experimental high temperatures to keep project has a few the resin in molten state. challenges. The first was Pneumatic valve-gate gating: direct-gating actuators perform well in these parts with hot-tip these extreme operating style gates was not an conditions. option because the PEEK Before processing, the resin would freeze off at resin has to be properly the normal processing dried at 120-150ºC for 3-5 temperature. Raising the hours. If the resin is not temperature of the tip (at properly dried then splay the gate) to over 340ºC or bubbles could form in could result in degrading the part, which can affect the resin, therefore part quality. torpedo-style hot tips Keep in mind that are not recommended for injection speed, hold gating PEEK parts. time, hold pressure, Other gating styles shot size and processing to consider include temperatures (melt and valve gates (VX Tip) and mould) influence part and standard thermal sprue gate quality, so each of gates (TS) (see Figure these parameters must be 2). With these gating fully optimised to establish styles, the gate area is a wider processing maintained at a higher window, increasing part temperature as the melt quality and improving Figure 2: Gating styles suitable for moulding PEEK parts heat is brought to the repeatability. gate via the nozzle/valve stem or the gate tip. This part was direct-gated with a valve gate Optimising part fill times hot runner system. The plaque, measuring 4 in. To optimise part fill-time, several runs at different in length and 1.5 in. in width with 1-mm wallinjection speeds at a set melt temperature of 385ºC thickness, was moulded from a single-drop offset and mould temperature of 170ºC were conducted. hot runner mould in a 180-tonne Husky injection These runs started with a high injection speed of moulding machine. 300 mm/s and then slowed down to 25 mm/s. 2 AU G U ST 2 017

Injection Moulding Asia Hot Runners The results demonstrated that the part needed to be filled faster. The optimum fill time was determined to be 0.32 seconds and peak pressure was 10,954 psi (see Figure 4). High-resolution imaging of the gate

Gate posting (vestige) was also observed during processing with melt temperatures at 390-395ยบC. Lowering the melt temperature resolved the issue. Also, ripples and grooves on the part surface were observed at low injection speeds. This was due to solidification occurring too quickly. The high resistance to resin flow produces uneven frontal flow and solidified resin will not fully contact the cavity wall. Even longer holding pressure was unable to smooth out the ripples (see Figure 7). By increasing the injection speeds, the ripples and record grooves were eliminated.

Plastic Pressure vs. Speed 16000.0











0.0 0









Figure 4: Plastic pressure versus fill-speed Figure 7: Ripples in the part surface

demonstrated the gate quality that can be achieved with the right equipment and processing conditions (see Figures 5 and 6).

Conclusion Although high-temperature polymers with processing temperatures in the range of 350-400ยบC present certain moulding challenges, as previously mentioned, hot runners are still the optimal choice for small to medium size part applications when direct-gating is used. Mould makers and moulders can justify the increased upfront costs for direct-gating these types of plastic parts due to the substantial cost savings over the product lifecycle. It is crucial to select a suitable hot runner design to ensure that the entire melt channel, from the sprue bushing to the gate are maintained to within +/- 5ยบC of the set temperatures to avoid any hot/cold spots for crystalline polymers.

Figure 5: Moulded plaque showing good gate quality


Eric Beauregard for helping to run the resin test and Patrick Clemensen at Victrex PLC for supplying the resin for the resin test.

For more information contact:

Husky Injection Molding Systems

Figure 6: High resolution image of the gate

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • US’s Vystar Corp. has formed a strategic partnership with Vietnamese foam producer Lien ‘A for its multipatented, all-natural, allergen-free Vytex latex. Over the past year, Lien ‘A’s CEO Lam Ngoc Minh has taken up significant equity in Vystar and NHS Holdings, Vystar’s exclusive distributor for Vytex foam, to assist in expanding its supply chain. Vystar investors have invested US$20 million since its inception. Lien ‘A is studying the possibility of usage in mattresses, pillows and other bedding products that will be sold by retailers throughout the Americas.

of Malaysia’s total rubber product exports to China, has acquired two plants in Malaysia to capture 30% market share in China. Exports from these two factories contribute an additional 15% of Malaysia’s total rubber products exports to China. Another reason why Top Glove is seeking M&As in China is that the sole factory it has in China produces PVC gloves, which are being phased out for health reasons. More than 95% of Top Glove’s rubber gloves are exported to 195 countries. It has 29 factories and 499 production lines around the world, with a production capacity of 48 billion pieces/year.

in the Northeast region of Thailand with a capacity of 7,200 tonnes/month and is expanding its existing plant in Indonesia by 5,000 tonnes/month. The company’s 35 plants are in Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar, and together represent production capacity of 2.4 million tonnes/year. It aims to raise its global market share to 20% from last year’s 12%. Sri Trang’s operation spans rubber plantations and rubber processing for medical examination gloves. In the downstream business, its subsidiary Sri Trang Gloves is Thailand’s largest and the world’s fifth maker of medical gloves.

• SaarGummi Group has entered into a technical agreement and is considering a joint venture with South Korean automotive components supplier AIA Corp., to link SaarGummi’s capabilities in sealing systems with AIA’s manufacture of antivibration systems, bumpers and weatherstrips. AIA has significant existing business with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, including delivering 12% of the weatherstrips for both South Korean car makers. SaarGummi operates in 23 locations in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific. AIA was founded in 1988 as Daekyung Chemical and changed its name in 2004. It had sales of US$263 million in 2016.

• Another Malaysian glove manufacturer Petropolymer plans to build a US$300 million acrylonitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) facility in Pengerang, Johor, since it currently imports its raw material from Taiwan and Thailand. The demand by local glove manufacturers is seen at 600,000 tonnes/ year. The NBR factory will be developed in two phases, with the first US$150 million phase to be built on a 60 ha site, with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes/ year of NBR for local rubber manufacturers. It will have the capability of expanding production to 200,000 tonnes by 2025.

• Tyre manufacturer and retreading company Marangoni has sold its solid tyre business to UAE-based conglomerate Onyx Group, which has activities in the construction, manufacturing, real estate, industrial catering and hospitality industries. It acquired 100% of the operations in France, Germany, Italy and Sri Lanka. Marangoni will continue to manufacture tyres at its plant in Rovereto, Italy, which will be sold to Onyx. The latter will also receive rights to the Marangoni brand name related to solid tyres along with the Jumbo, Forza, Eltor and Quickmont trademarks.

• Thailand-based Sri Trang Agro-Industry, the world’s largest fully integrated natural rubber company, is investing 2 billion baht to increase its rubber production capacity to 2.9 million tonnes/year. The company has begun setting up a rubber plant

• Japanese tyre maker Yokohama Rubber Company (YRC) will increase its production capacity in China for passenger car tyres to 13.6 million units/ year by 2020, up nearly 50%, as it looks to boost business with local automotive makers. The company

• Malaysian glove manufacturer Top Glove is seeking M&As or joint ventures to grow its market share in China. The company, which accounts for 13%

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News operates two Chinese plants in Suzhou and Hangzhou. The former plant has repeatedly expanded since 2013 and will get the most equipment updates. The upgrades will cost US$241 million, thus making China the largest manufacturing base of YRC outside Japan. • Finnish tyre manufacturer Nokian Tyres will be building its third factory in the US to boost growth outside the European market. The new US$360 million greenfield factory will be located in Tennessee and have a capacity of 4 million tyres/year with an expansion potential in the future. Construction is scheduled to begin in early 2018 and the first tyres are to be produced in 2020. • Italian tyre maker Pirelli is suspending its production in crisis-hit Venezuela indefinitely as it cannot get the necessary raw materials. The firm has had the plant in the country for 26 years. But it said it would continue to supply its tyres to the country. The company has halted production once before two weeks last year but this time the suspension is indefinite. This news follows after automotive maker General Motors said it was quitting Venezuela. • German machine manufacturer Troester, as part of its restructuring and optimisation of its Hanover plant, will begin a second construction phase to expand its factory. A 3,200 sq m-production hall was constructed in 2016 and it will expand this to 25,000 sq m this year. The extrusion specialist manufactures

machines for repeated extrusion of tyre components, rubber goods or medium to extra high-voltage cables. • US-based chemicals firm Cabot Corporation is building a new world-class plant for fumed silica, CAB-O-SIL, in the US, to be operational by 2020. The facility, which is an extension of Cabot’s longterm relationship with Dow Corning, will be adjacent to the latter’s existing silicone monomer plant in Carrollton. Cabot and Dow Corning have been partners for more than 30 years, with current neighbouring operations in the US and UK. • US-based chemicals firm Dow Chemical is to construct a manufacturing facility to produce a range of polymers for coatings and watertreatment applications, and an MOU for a feasibility study related to a proposed investment in the company’s performance silicones franchise in Saudi Arabia. Located in the PlasChem Park in Jubail, the coatings facility will service the needs of the Saudi Arabian market with a range of acrylic-based polymers for industrial and architectural coatings and watertreatment and detergent applications. It will complement Dow’s existing coatings capabilities in the Middle East, which include an existing facility in Dubai. The proposed silicones investment will include a fully integrated, world-scale siloxanes and silicones complex for various markets such as home and personal care, automotive, building and construction, solar energy, medical devices, and oil and gas.

• ContiTech, a division of German automotive manufacturing company Continental, is closing its plant in Missouri, US, by end of the year to give way to investing in new technology. It will also move its PVC hose business to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, where it is adding 36,000 sq ft of space as part of a US$12 million project. ContiTech is also investing US$7.2 million to expand its industrial hose plant in Mount Pleasant. • VMI South America has opened its new headquarters in Itatiaia, near São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The firm is the service hub for all VMI equipment users in South America, with direct spare parts supply and the production-assembly hub for its tyre retreading machines in the region. • Malaysia’s state-owned oil company Petronas and its partner in the Rapid (Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development) project in Johor, Saudi Aramco, are studying the feasibility of building other petrochemical plants to make full use of raw materials from the Rapid project. Aramco signed a deal with Petronas early this year taking up a US$7 billion investment in the Rapid project in Pengerang. Projects being studied include speciality chemicals and synthetic rubber. The cracker has a capacity of 600,000 tonnes of butadiene, which could be used to produce either elastomers or synthetic rubber.

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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News

Paving the way for rubberised roads Rubberised roads demonstrate a viable

Persuade’s PERS mixes were tested on tracks such as the 75-m road built in Kalvehave, Denmark in 2014

solution against greenhouse gas emissions,

road noise abatement and landfilling of scrap tyre rubber. In Thailand, rubber roads also

stabilise its economy, says Angelica Buan in this report.


raffic on roads, the blight of economic growth, has health, environmental and productivity costs. INRIX, a US-headquartered mobility intelligence company that provides traffic analytics and population movement insights, indicated in its 2016 scorecard report that among developing countries surveyed, Thailand, which also ranks first worldwide, leads in peak hours spent in congestion, with an average of 61 hours. Meanwhile, Russia leads in the developed countries category and ranks fourth worldwide with an average of 42 hours spent – and wasted – in traffic jams. On the other hand, people in countries like Italy and Singapore spend fewer hours on roads, averaging 15 and 10 hours, respectively. The growing population and urbanisation are also major causes of road congestion, according to INRIX. It is a crisis that is also tied up with the state of infrastructure of a given region, country or city. In other words, road congestion is a malaise that has not found a perfect cure, as yet. However, there is something that can be done to cure its symptoms: among which is road noise.

this project might include also a certain amount of sand or stone aggregate, mainly to increase friction. PERS has been initiated in Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden, where full-scale test tracks with different stone/rubber/binder mixes of varying length were built; and on roads carrying different traffic loads. Large amounts of recycled rubber from scrap tyres were used. The Persuade team also monitored the tracks for a variety of parameters, such as skid resistance, winter behaviour, noise reduction and durability. According to the team, it “achieved initial tyre/road noise reductions around 10 dB with the best PERS materials, exceeding that of average noise barriers. All the materials tested on roads exposed to traffic met road administration requirements concerning skid resistance. Performance during winter conditions was also acceptable overall. Procedures to handle early snowfall and ice formation events were developed, including preventive and extra salting”. Another important advantage of the materials used in PERS is that they do not create chemical hazards during construction or operation, Persuade reported.

Keeping the level of noise down on roads ow to dampen road noise is the main objective of a European project called Persuade. Launched from 2009 to 2015, the EUR3.4 million, 12-partner consortium focused on developing and testing new road pavements with very high noise-reducing effect. They recommended a formula for poroelastic road surfaces (PERS) that are based on recycled tyre rubber, and with a high proportion of air voids to make the surface porous. The air voids in combination with the elastic rubber granules to make the surface flexible, contribute to dampening noise from the tyre-road contact. PERS may be used on limited areas with very high noise exposure, and where it is not possible or desirable to use noise barriers. Persuade further explained that by using rubber granulate from used vehicle tyres bound with elastic resin, specifically for this project, a two-fold environmental aim may be achieved: reduce noise from road traffic and at the same time give a considerable amount of used tyres in Europe a second lifecycle. The final mixtures produced in


US test driving improvements in rubber-asphalt mix he US piloted asphalt-rubber road technology in 1948 with a mile-long span along Exchange Street in Akron, Ohio. It was befitting since Akron was dubbed the “Rubber Capital of the World”, being a home base to the world’s top tyre brands like BF Goodrich, Bridgestone, Firestone, General Tire and Goodyear. That first test drive for elastic road mix contained between 5% to 7% rubber additive and the remaining bulk with asphalt. It was only in 1965 that crumb rubber was incorporated to asphalt mix, repurposing waste tyres. Since then, the state has adopted wider use of rubberised asphalt, building what it calls “quiet roads” with decibel level of road noise reduced to as much as 12%.


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Rubber Journal Asia Tyre Market Materials News Meanwhile, rubber roads are also flourishing in other US states, aided by new R&D in the technology. In 2014, a five-year study funded by the National Science Foundation aimed at improving the crumb rubber-asphalt process.

Rubberised roads boost latex consumption in Thailand he 69-million populated Thailand is witnessing an ever-booming economy, which stands to grow at 3.2% in 2017, according to the World Bank. That being said, the country’s saga with road congestion continues. Nevertheless, being a major rubber producer and automotive hub in Southeast Asia, the country is also paving roads with rubber. And the reasons are spawning beyond cutting down traffic noise and improving road conditions. As the world’s largest rubber producer and exporter of rubber, Thailand is contending with falling prices of the commodity amid oversupply from other rubber producing countries. The country accounts for 4.5 million tonnes/year of rubber produced or 37% of global production. To stimulate its latex prices, it is boosting its domestic consumption. In its latest bid to promote rubberised roads, Thailand’s Songkhla province is adding six more in the districts of Chana, Saba Yoi, Rattaphum, Na Mom and Thepa, to its existing two rubberised roads located in Hat Yai and Khuan Niang districts. Each of the two 4-lane roads, spanning 1.85 km and 1.5 km, respectively, is 8 m wide; and 1 km of the 5 cm-thick road uses 2.5 tonnes of latex. The new construction will range from 1.5 km-2 km long and cost 5 million baht/km or about 20% more than surfacing with asphalt road at 4 million baht/km. Nevertheless, officials claim that the rubberised roads are cost effective, lasting to about 5-7 years. Citing a current report from the Department of Rural Roads, already 7,000 tonnes of latex have been used for road construction projects in Thailand, for the year. The volume of rubber used is worth over 358 million baht. Since 2013, it reported that over 22,000 tonnes of raw latex, worth more than 1 billion baht, has been used for road construction and repairs. For Thailand, not only does using latex rubber enhance the durability of roads, and renders lower road maintenance costs, but it also cushions rubber prices by increasing its domestic use and consumption of the rubber it produces.


The NSFfunded research evaluated the interaction of crumb rubber with specific additives under varied conditions

Magdy Abdelrahman, Associate Professor of civil engineering at North Dakota State University experimented with crumb rubber and other components. His research involved studying interaction of crumb rubber with specific additives to evaluate and characterise the physical and chemical properties of the compounds. He also wanted to determine whether certain conditions, such as bad weather, would cause chemical releases from the recycled materials and the potential impact on soil and groundwater. In Canada, a more recent breakthrough has come from the University of British Columbia (UBC) engineers who developed a type of concrete using recycled tyres. The material, more resilient in its class, could be used not only for roads but also for other structures like buildings, dams and bridges. To formulate the desired concoction that includes 0.35% tyre fibres, the researchers experimented combining different proportions of recycled tyre fibres and other materials used in concrete, such as cement, sand and water. According to the research team, the laboratory tests showed that fibre-reinforced concrete reduces crack formation by more than 90%, compared to regular concrete, with polymer fibres bridging the cracks as they form, helping protect the structure and making it last longer. This year, the rubberised concrete has been used to resurface the steps in front of the McMillan building on UBC’s campus. Having monitored the performance of the concrete using sensors embedded in the concrete, the research team said it showed a significantly reduced cracking.

This year, the Nakhon Si Thammarat Highway District 1 is constructing two 8-km roads using 15 tonnes of rubber

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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber

The anatomy of biobased rubber in tyres Renewably-sourced synthetic rubbers are

making the cut in the growing automotive and tyre markets, says Angelica Buan in this report.


ars are one of the greatest inventions of mankind, the best embodiment to man’s appetite for mobility and speed. But what are cars without tyres? Pneumatic tyres, the modern progeny of the earliest tyres made of leather, steel or wood, use synthetic rubber as well as natural rubber. Synthetic rubber has the ability to return to its original shape when stretched or deformed under stress. It also provides tyres their rolling resistance and good grip. About 60% of the rubber used in the tyre industry is synthetic rubber, hence, demand growth in tyres can be both a blessing and a curse for natural rubber producers because natural rubber only accounts for 40% in tyre production. Research firm Transparency Market Research (TMR) reiterates that synthetic rubber is the best alternative for natural rubber, in its report spanning the period from 2016-2023. The industry is headed for growth valued at nearly US$46 billion during this period, it says. Among factors that veer demand from natural rubber to synthetic rubber is the former’s unstable prices, which is caused by “inconsistent supply, geographic constraints on rubber plantations, long transport distances, and rapidly rising demand for rubber across the globe”, according to the report. Synthetic rubber fills in the lapses from natural rubber, which at the same time help industrial consumers achieve higher profit margins. In the tyre segment, against the backdrop of regulations continuing to be enforced in favour of environmentally-friendly products, performance demand for environmentally-friendly tyres or sustainable cars produced from renewable resources is a boost to synthetic rubber.

Environmental awareness is becoming an important driving force for renewably sourced feedstocks to produce synthetic rubber

than receptive. Citing findings from Global Markets Insights, the synthetic and biobased butadiene market will surpass US$24 billion by 2024, driven by strong growth in the automotive and tyres segments. The overall tyre industry size is expanding, estimated to reach nearly 4 billion units by 2024, and thus, spurring ahead the growth of essential raw materials used in tyre manufacturing, such as butadiene. Nevertheless, while synthetic raw materials are benefitting from automotive and tyres market growth, environmental awareness is likewise becoming an important driving force for renewably sourced feedstocks, to have an edge over synthetic, oil-based counterparts. Markets and Markets in its own report, meanwhile, appraised the butadiene market to be worth more than 16 million tonnes by 2018. It accounts the Asia Pacific region as the world’s largest market for butadiene, which consumed more than half of the total global demand, and also for most of its derivatives that include styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), polybutadiene rubber (PBR), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and nitrile rubber (NR).

Synthetic rubber from natural sources


he term “natural synthetic rubber” sounds more like a contradiction than a possibility. But new studies on deriving rubber chemicals from natural, renewable sources are proving that contradiction spurs solutions. Tyre compounds like butadiene are in the forefront of such studies, and the market is more

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Rubber Journal Asia TyreSynthetic Market Rubber China and South Korea are the biggest consumers of butadiene in the region, while India and China are expected to be the fastest growing markets for butadiene, it reported. The region’s high level growth can be attributed to its growing population, which as of 2016 has burgeoned to 4.6 billion, according to the United Nation’s data. Developed and developing economies, as well as favourable investment policies and government initiatives, are a few factors that will lead to increased consumption of synthetic rubber and other key materials.

Isoprene from plants


esearchers from the University of Minnesota (UM), University of Massachusetts (UMass), and the Centre for Sustainable Polymers have innovated a new rubber technology, which utilises natural, renewable sources like corn, grasses and trees to obtain isoprene, a chemical compound also known as 2-methylbuta-1,3-diene and which is a chief ingredient in synthetic rubber. Lead researcher Paul Dauenhauer of UM said that the technology addresses attempts by many tyre companies to find alternative processes for making isoprene from biomass, such as the on-going development of dandelion rubber. As well, it is a breakthrough proxy to the current process of obtaining isoprene, that is, by thermally breaking up compounds in petroleum through a process called cracking. The isoprene is purified and separated from hundreds of by-products of the cracking process, and then it reacts with itself to develop long polymer chains that are needed to make car tyres. With the new technology, the researchers described the process of obtaining isoprene from biomass: the first step is the microbial fermentation of sugars, like glucose, obtained from biomass to an intermediate, called itaconic acid. Next, the itaconic acid is reacted with hydrogen to a chemical called methyl-THF (tetrahydrofuran). A unique metalmetal combination developed by the team serves as a highly effective catalyst to optimise this second step. The third step involves the dehydration of methyl-THF to obtain isoprene. Here, the team uses a novel catalyst called P-SPP (Phosphorous Self-Pillared Pentasil). The catalytic efficiency was as high as 90% with most of the catalytic product being isoprene. UM’s Office for Technology Commercialisation has already applied for a patent on the renewable rubber technology and will license the technology to companies that would like to scale it on a commercial basis. The study was published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal, ACS Catalysis.

Bridgestone is able to produce a biobased isoprene utilising its new proprietary polymerisation catalyst, gadolinium

Embarking on the same venture of obtaining synthetic isoprene is Japanese tyre maker Bridgestone Corporation. The Tokyo-headquartered company announced early this year that it had created synthetic isoprene rubber (IR) through precise molecular structure control, utilising its new proprietary polymerisation catalyst. The newly synthesised IR has the potential to contribute to the development of next-generation rubber with strength and fuel-efficient performance surpassing that of natural rubber, the company stated. Bridgestone explained that IR is usually manufactured using lithium (Li), titanium (Ti), or neodymium (Nd) catalysts. “The gadolinium (Gd) catalyst we developed is, thus, a completely new innovation,” it said. While it has been known that Gd catalysts have the potential to enable precise control of the molecular structure of IR, it was previously necessary for these catalysts to be used at temperatures below 0°C, which resulted in low activity and made manufacturing processes unfeasible, Bridgestone furthered. “The Gd catalyst features a structure designed to enable it to be utilised to control IR molecular structure at temperatures above 40°C, the range commonly used in manufacturing processes. Moreover, the new Gd catalyst demonstrates activity of 1,800 cycle/minute, roughly 600 times higher than the activity of conventional Gd catalysts, making its use all the more practical,” Bridgestone added. Bridgestone said that its IR innovation is part of its goal of working toward making 100% of raw materials used in its tyres sustainable materials by 2050.

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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber Butadiene goes “green”

tyres. Through the project, funded by the Qatar Foundation and the Qatar National Research Fund, the team started with cyclopentene, a low value component of petrochemical refining, but which contains hydrocarbons. Working with other experts from the California Institute of Technology, the team toiled around catalysts to string cyclopentene molecules together to make polypentenamers, which are similar to natural rubber. This heralds cyclopentene as a potential alternative to butadiene that is becoming more expensive and tighter in supply. The group found that it is possible to achieve a cheaper and energy saving option to conventional butadiene with cyclopentene – by polymerising and degrading it under relatively mild reaction conditions. The TAMU-Qatar experts said that upon digging further into the feasibility of the synthesis and recyclability of polypentenamer-based tyre additives using equilibrium ring opening metathesis polymerisation, their experimental studies demonstrated that “the concept works very well”. As explained, the researchers polymerised cyclopentene at 0°C, using ruthenium, a transition-metal catalyst; and decomposed the resulting material at 40 to 50 °C. The team is also currently experimenting on combining synthetic rubber with other tyre materials such as metals and fillers; and determining how the process can viably benefit the tyre industry.


cientists from the Catalysis Centre for Energy Innovation at the University of Delaware, US, have discovered a method of deriving an important chemical used in tyres and for other applications, from plant matter. The process involves turning sugars extracted from switchgrass, wood chips and other biomass into butadiene.

Scientists from the University of Delaware discovered a process of obtaining butadiene from sugars extracted from biomass

The study, published in the ACS’s scientific journal Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, is anticipated to extend value for major tyre innovators mentioned like Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone. This biobased technology is also deemed to augment the domestic supply of petroleum-based butadiene as demand for automotive use and tyres increases. The three-step process converts the sugars from woody plants into one compound and then another. The new substance is mixed with a catalyst called phosphorous all-silica zeolite, also invented by the Catalyst Centre, to create butadiene, which the initiators claimed to be similar to that extracted from crude oil. The Catalyst Centre’s undertaking of producing bioproducts and biofuels is backed by a US$30 million US Federal funding. The team’s work on plant-based butadiene still requires further evaluation of its economic viability and how it can be produced on a commercial scale.

From waste to rubber


n a related development, a research group led by Dr Hassan S Bazzi of the Texas A&M University campus in Qatar (TAMU-Qatar) has worked on obtaining synthetic rubber from scrap

TAMU-Qatar researchers found a way of obtaining cyclopentene, a potential alternative to butadiene, from scrap tyres

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PRA magazine August 2017 Digital Edition  
PRA magazine August 2017 Digital Edition