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The SPE Library contains thousands of papers, presentations, journal briefs and recorded webinars from the best minds in the Plastics Industry. Spanning almost two decades, this collection of published research and development work in polymer science and plastics technology is a wealth of knowledge and information for anyone involved in plastics.

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Various topics related to sustainability in plastics, including bio-related, environmental issues, green, recycling, renewal, re-use and sustainability.
Quantifying the Biobased Carbon Content within Plastics using ASTM-D6866 : A Technical Overview.
Darden Hood, February 2009
ASTM-D6866 has gained widespread use both domestically and abroad as a clear and concise means to document the renewable carbon content (a.k.a. biobased carbon content) of plastics, liquids, and gases. Composite carbon components of renewable and fossil origin within plastic or any of its originating components are readily identified and conveyed with a single number result (e.g. 65% biobased). Both state and Federal regulators have embraced the method as a solution to identifying biobased carbon within manufactured products, raw materials, and even carbon neutral CO2 emissions from stationary emission sources. The method is the foundation for identifying the biobased carbon content of plastics and other materials listed in the USDA's BioPreferred Program, is cited in California’s greenhouse gas reporting regulations (AB 32), and as of the writing of this abstract is referenced in the EPA’s evolving guidelines for monitoring national greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate Change
John Christy, February 2009
Though Global Warming has garnered considerable attention in the political realm as a nondebatable issue, the notion that scientists have been able to understand the global climate system with such precision that they can confidently predict its evolution is not supported by the evidence. Christy will demonstrate that published, observational datasets, many of which he and UAHuntsville colleagues have constructed from scratch, do not support the hypothesis of rapid climate change due to the human-enhanced greenhouse effect. The impacts of potential "do something about global warming" initiatives will be shown to be ineffectual while at the same time threatening human development, particularly of the poorest among us. This will include research Christy presented as an expert witness in Federal Court, Burlington VT.
Analytical Approaches to Characterize Products and Issues Associated With Recycled Materials
Jennifer Brooks, February 2009
As the market for reprocessed resin increases from both post-industrial and post-consumer plastic products, a unique set of problems is encountered. This paper will explore analytical approaches for identifying and resolving these issues. In one case study, reprocessing of post-consumer nylon fibers resulted in undesirable odors. Gas chromatography with mass spectrometry was utilized to determine the sources of these odors. In a second case study, incorporation of some percentages of post-industrial and post-consumer polyethylene regrind into a molded product was accomplished without sacrificing key properties. Several techniques were applied to compare the responses of the virgin product with that containing 30% regrind. Finally, a consumer product was found to be failing after some time in outdoor storage. Since it was suspected that the presence of regrind was the cause, a battery of chromatographic, spectroscopic, microscopic, and thermal tests were applied to verify the cause of the failures.
New Coupling Technology Helps Olefin-Based Thermoplastic Composites Make Products “Greener
Louis Martin, February 2009
Over the past decade, the fastest growing segment of both the composites and the broader plastics industries has been thermoplastic polyolefin-based systems owning to their excellent cost / performance ratio and processing efficiency. These composites continue to help products produced in many markets reduce human impact on the planet due to their lightweight stiffness and strength, plus excellent design freedom. To achieve required performance, olefins – like most other polymer matrices – require the addition of compatibilizers, process aids, stabilization systems, and coupling agents to increase weatherability, thermal stability, efficient processing, and to ensure a strong bond is achieved between matrix and reinforcements. In the quest for ever more cost-effective but higher performing components, research has focused on manipulating chemistry of both polymers and additive systems, improving and broadening reinforcement offerings, and streamlining production methods. One area that has proven to be especially useful at improving the performance of olefin composites while also reducing residual VOCs has been the development of a new generation of coupling agents based on maleic anhydride (MAH). With these systems, mechanical properties are improved and levels of free MAH are reduced orders of magnitude, typically at lower additive levels than was possible with earlier generation coupling agents. This paper will describe the benefits of these new additives, and how they can assist users of olefin composites in markets as diverse as automotive, ground transportation, construction, appliance, and food preparation produce products that are “greener” and help reduce the negative aspects of human impact on the planet.
Carbon Footprints -- What are they and what good are they?
Shawn Blenis, February 2009
Carbon—specifically, carbon dioxide (CO2)—has gone mainstream and it hasn’t exactly landed in the limelight. Everyone from consumers to retailers to investors is now intently focused on CO2, or more accurately, the elimination of it. A groundswell of media attention, activist groups, new legislation, changing market dynamics, and a link—real or perceived—to global warming have made carbon public enemy number one. Yet, it remains one of the largest industrial manufacturing by-products emitted into the atmosphere by volume. Reducing levels of CO2 output is a complicated process that takes time—the one thing nearly everyone is short on. But as the adage goes: “knowledge is power.” And in a manufacturing industry that is scrambling to “green-ify” itself that knowledge comes in the form of understanding carbon footprints—and putting the results to work. The best way to generate a carbon footprint is through a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) which systematically assesses the environmental burdens associated with a product, process or activity over the whole of its lifecycle from the extraction and transportation of raw materials through to manufacture, packaging, transport, distribution and finally, disposal. A carbon footprint, which is a component and subset of the more detailed and comprehensive LCA, is a complete analysis of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions created by a particular product or service. Carbon footprinting measures the global warming potential (GWP) of products or services. A carbon footprint should be considered by any manufacturer that is serious about truly understanding and reducing its environmental impact and improving public perception. This presentation will address in detail how carbon footprints can be applied to complex manufacturing systems. Such application presents significant challenges, including: • Parameters and scope – Define the functional unit and decide what exactly can be measured and how. This preparatory phase looks at the product systems and system boundaries as well as what assumptions are being made. It also accounts for what should be excluded. • Data collection and quality – Consideration for how data will be collected and how emissions will be quantified must be considered. Also, how reliable is the data? • Impact Assessment – This includes how the data should be benchmarked and presented so it is meaningful to multiple audiences, internal and external. • Drawing sound and objective conclusions – Finally, carbon footprints are only useful if the data is presented in a meaningful and actionable way. These challenges and appropriate avenues to success will be discussed for the benefit of environmental compliance officers, plant managers and anyone involved in the optimization of production processes. This presentation will highlight in a general sense several actual case studies of carbon footprints conducted for major consumer and industrial companies including: Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Novartis and Pepsi and Coca-Cola, among others. The presentation will cover the results in more detail of several carbon footprint exercises including:  A comparison of traditional HDPE plastic shopping bags to new biopolymer bags;  A study comparing the carbon footprint of bottled water to that of tap water;  A case study that looked at the relative carbon footprints of various types of plastic packaging for flocculants. This presentation will discuss how conducting your carbon footprint will quickly identify the “80/20” rule for global warming potential, and how it can subsequently be applied to reduce your environmental impact in an efficient and economical way. In most carbon footprint scenarios, manufacturers will discover that the greatest component of emissions generated comes from two sources, the primary being electrical consumption and the other being transportation of goods. Finally, the presentation will offer information for participants not only on how to conduct a carbon footprint exercise for a particular product, but how to interpret and present the results. This powerful information will allow manufacturers to understand on a micro and macro level the impact that their operations have on the environment— thus their business—and what, if any, action should be taken.
An Eco-efficiency Life Cycle Analysis of Food Waste Collection and Disposal
Keith Edwards, February 2009
An eco-efficiency study was conducted to compare the environmental impacts and total costs of three options for diversion of food waste in a food service setting; 1) disposal in a compostable liner made from Ecoflex®, 2) disposal in a non-compostable liner made from polyethylene and 3) disposal without the use of a liner. The interest and growth of food waste collection and diversion away from landfills to alternative disposal sites is well known to today’s waste managers. Organics collection is at an all time high, and pre and post consumer food waste is a vital part of that stream, reported as 31 million tons from the 2006 EPA report on Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). With so much food waste to collect and divert in the US, infrastructure questions abound. Along with each piece of the infrastructure puzzle, more questions arise concerning the benefit of organics diversion versus the cost of collection and the potential harmful environmental impacts of hauling, sorting and composting of organics. The BASF Eco-Efficiency Analysis (EEA) tool is a sophisticated life cycle assessment tool that considers all of the environmental impacts of the production, use and disposal of a product. The EEA also considers all cost associated with the product use, which is not something typically included in a life cycle assessment. Furthermore, the BASF EEA produces a portfolio that normalizes potential solutions into a grid to allow for comparison on a performance basis. Thus, many potential solutions to a problem can be compared, quickly and accurately, to determine the most environmentally and economically attractive choice.
Message in a Bottle - PET Bottle Recycling
Mike Hendley, February 2009
The United States produces 100 billion bottles per year. If the bottles are not returned to the original high value item, another 100 billion will be produced each of the following years, putting the bottles into various waste streams. Each bottle is high value because it represents lightweight packaging, energy input and consumer confidence in the safety of the product. Thus the question, “can we reuse the asset and is it worthwhile doing so, based on sustainability guidelines”? The presentation provides specifics on equipment that is both capital and operationally effective. It addresses Rpet requiring only 10% of the energy of Virgin PET with a reduction of 30% in CO2 emissions. While satisfying the previous, it can be designed to meet FDA guidelines for contaminate levels along with the requirements of emissions for EPA. We can recapture the asset value and recycling of PET bottles can be accomplished at high capacity with reduced overall costs and also be environmentally friendly.
Sorting Out the Economics and Science of Green Polymers
Roger Jones, February 2009
For some time, scientists, politicians, environmentalists, and even private citizens have been emphasizing the protection of the environment. However, it is notable that often there is substantial disagreement between advocates in all of these groups about how to best accomplish this worthy goal. Frequently, these differences of opinion occur because the parties are not working from the same set of facts or even comparable concepts. This paper seeks to identify a unified basis for understanding and comparing the critical economic and scientific details of such ideals as sustainability, renewable materials, and alternative energy sources as applied within the plastics industry.
Why Degradable?
Michael Stephen, February 2009
We hear a lot these days about plastic bags – but what’s wrong with plastic? Plastic is very strong - it’s waterproof and its still very cheap. Without plastic it would be impossible to transport food safely and hygienically to millions of homes all over the world and to sell it at affordable prices. The problem is that if ordinary or recycled plastic gets out into the environment it will lie or float around for decades, and we have all heard of the massive patch of plastic waste floating in the Pacific Ocean. Technologies have now become available which can produce plastic products such as shopping bags, garbage sacks, packaging etc. which are fit for purpose, but will harmlessly degrade at the end of their useful life. These fall into two broad categories, namely: 1. Oxo-biodegradable plastics, made from a by-product of oil-refining, which degrade in the environment by a process of oxidation initiated by an additive, and then biodegrade after their molecular weight has reduced to the point where naturallyoccurring micro-organisms can access the material. 2. Hydro-biodegradable plastics, made wholly or partly from crops, which biodegrade in a highly microbial environment, such as composting
Recycling PVC: Debunking the Myth
David Yopak, February 2009
In the age of heightened environmental awareness, many new concepts and materials have been developed and discussed in an effort to either reduce our carbon footprint or limit our use of fossil fuels for plastic materials. One material, often misunderstood, has had a positive impact on the environment for years. Both rigid and flexible compounds of Polyvinyl Chloride have been used in a myriad of applications ranging from outdoor furniture, to medical applications, to compliance with NSF standards for potable water, all while offering excellent recyclability characteristics as well as a smaller carbon foot print than many conventional commodity thermoplastics. This paper will provide a practical discussion of recycling flexible Vinyl and the potential uses of the recyclate. From sourcing to processing, all aspects of a vinyl recycling operation are covered, with a primary focus on the material characteristics of the recyclate, and the ability to tailor the recycled compound to a given set of physical properties. In addition, further discussions will include potential uses of the recyclate, as well as ideas for infrastructure to promote the use of post consumer PVC.
Nora Catalina Restrepo-Zapata , Juan Sebastian Jaramillo , Andres Felipe Velez, May 2009
Ceramics processing industry employs foam materials in order to finish crude pottery because of its softness, elastic recovery, abrasion capacity, among others. At the moment, the ceramists in Colombia use marine sponge despite the increasing economic and environmental costs of this practice. This work explores the methods to produce a synthetic and feasible alternative for Colombian ceramic materials manufacturers based on morphologystructure- properties of the marine sponge and a comparison with thermoset and thermoplastic flexible foams. In addition, the abrasion capacity is calculated based on superficial quality in crude pottery by means of contact methods
Patrick Mather , Sadhan Jana , Prithu Mukhopadhyay, May 2009
Abstract #1: Design, Fabrication and Applications of Polymer Microfluidic Biochips Microtechnology is initiated from the electronics industry. In recent years, it has been extended to micro-electro-mechanic system (MEMS) for producing miniature devices based on silicon and semi-conductor materials. However, the use of these hard materials alone is inappropriate for many biomedical devices. Soft polymeric materials possess many attractive properties such as high toughness and recyclability. Some possess excellent biocompatibility, are biodegradable, and can provide various biofunctionalities. I will first give a brief overview of major activities in our center on micro/nanomanufacturing of polymeric materials and microfluidics. An enzyme immunoassay chip will be discussed as an example for a low-cost and mass-producible lab-on-a-chip platform for molecular and biological analyses. The platform is a microfluidic CD for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA) that reduces cost, accelerates results, and improves reliability of analyses for food borne contaminants, cancer diagnoses and environmental contamination. The presentation will cover (1) optimization and integration of the critical microfluidic and biochip packaging methods developed for CD-ELISA applications, (2) development of manufacturing and detection protocols for the CD-ELISA chips, and (3) evaluation of the performance of CD-ELISA's by validating testing for food borne pathogens and cancer cytokines.?ÿ ?ÿ Abstract #2: Bio-applications of Microfluidics: A flexible microfluidic device to characterize bacterial biofilms We characterize the viscoelasticity of bacterial biofilms by means of a flexible microfluidic device. The biofilms are comprised of Staphylococcus epidermidis and Klebsiella pneumoniae.?ÿ The presence of implanted foreign bodies such as central venous catheters is a key risk factor for infection by bacteria of this kind.?ÿ Because of the sensitivity of biofilm properties to environme
Tad Finnegan, May 2009
Lead- and chrome-based pigments have been used in synthetic turf due to their performance properties and low cost in use. Environmental and regulatory concerns about these heavy metal-based pigments are leading the synthetic turf industry to voluntarily adopt guidelines that will effectively eliminate their use by 2010. Currently, no drop in" replacements exist for lead-based pigments. The variety of polymers used in synthetic turf further complicates finding solutions. Reformulation strategies using organic and inorganic colorants along with light stabilization systems are presented for several polymers."
Rabeh Elleithy , Saeed Al-Zahrani , Babu Gajendran, May 2009
It is known that polymers properties could change due to repeated exposure to high temperatures and shear during processing and recycling. In this research the rheological and thermal properties of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) were investigated. A twin screw extruder (Farrel FTX20) was used to expose PE and PP to repeated thermal history during pelletization. PE and PP were exposed to thermal histories up to 12 times during pelletization and re-pelletization processes. The rheological and thermal properties of the virgin polymer were compared to the re-pelletized ones. It was noticed that the melt viscosity of PE increased and that of PP decreased as the polymer was exposed to repeated pelletization. Additionally, the evaluated thermal properties of those of PE were not significantly changed, whereas, those of PP were affected.
Holger Ruckdäschel , Jan Sandler , Roland Hingmann , Klaus Hahn , Eric Wassner, May 2009
In recent years, concerns over environmental issues have led to a number of new regulations which have had a significant impact on the foams business in general and, in particular, for foams used in thermal insulation applications. Concerns over the depletion of the ozone layer and greenhouse gas emissions have led to the Montreal Protocol and measures to reduce the CO2 emissions. These regulatory issues in combination with traditional performance vs. cost issues are still driving changes in the global foams market today ' changes that are reflected both in the predictions of market growth as well as the technical demands placed on foamed products. In this paper, the expandable polystyrene (EPS) foam market is used to demonstrate the complex interactions of market forces versus technical progress when implementing successful foam products and processes for a wide-spread utilisation.
David Grewell , Julius Vogel , Kyle Haubrich , Gowrishankar Srinivashan, May 2009
In this work the weldability of PLA (Polylactic acid), a biodegradable polymer derived from corn starch was examined. Samples of biaxial oriented PLA films of various thicknesses were impulse and ultrasonic welded at various processing parameters. The results showed that relatively high weld strengths could be achieved with impulse welding over a relatively wide range of parameters. In addition, ultrasonic welding produced samples of relatively high strength too. However, while this process can be used with faster cycle times, it was less robust. In detail, ultrasonic welded samples of a thickness of 254 'm that were welded with a cycle time of 0.25 s had a average strength of approximately 160 N, while the results showed a standard deviation up to 50 N. In impulse welding samples of 100 'm thickness welded at 2 and 3 s had a strength of approximately 75 N, while the deviation was approximately 3 or 4 N. It was also seen that sample thickness affected the optimized welding parameters as well as ultimate strength. Having a thickness of 305 'm the weld of the samples had a strength of 80 N while the strength was 25-30 N at a thickness of 200 and 254 'm and a weld time of 0.15 s.
Sugar-powered fuel cells
H. Thomas Hahn, Hak-Sung Kim, Jongeun Ryu, June 2009
High-intensity light pulses provide a means of making nanoscale modifications to electrode surfaces that is fast, inexpensive, and green.
Economics, sustainability, and the public perception of biopolymers
Roger Jones, July 2009
Biopolymers are a growing and useful sector of the plastics industry but are not a substitute for conventional polymers.
An Investigation of ‘Green’ Class-A SMC
Thomas Steinhäusler, September 2009
Saturated- and unsaturated-polyester resins containing glycols made from renewable or recycled sources are being developed as a way to become less dependent on petroleum-based glycols. In this study SMC performance of standard-density Class A automotive SMC containing polyester resins produced from petroleum-based glycols was compared to standard-density Class A automotive SMC containing polyester resins produced from renewable-source glycols. The evaluation included processing aesthetics and adhesion performance. Finally a new low-density Class A automotive SMC containing polyester resins produced from renewable-source glycols will be introduced.
Development of Injection Moldable Composites Utilizing Annually Renewable Natural Fibers
Ellen Lee, September 2009
In order to advance the commercialization of natural fiber reinforced plastics for automotive use a partnership was formed between academia natural fiber processor material supplier and OEM. This partnership improved the communication along the supply chain and resulted in optimized material properties to meet OEM specifications and application part performance. Several products have been developed that meet current material specifications offer significant weight savings over conventional mineral- and glass-reinforced composites and are competitively priced.

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