SPE Library

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.
Renewable Resource-Based Composites for the Automotive Industry
Dejan Andjelkovic, September 2009
The incorporation of renewable resources in composite materials is a viable means to reduce environmental impact and support sustainability efforts in the composites industry. This paper will focus on unsaturatedpolyester resins prepared from renewable resources and their use in composite materials. Applications of these resins in the automotive industry will be described including a comparison of properties and performance vs. typical petroleum-based resins.
Renewably Sourced Engineering Polymers for High-Performance End-Use Applications
Richard Bell, September 2009
External trends have continued to drive end users in consumer and industrial applications to seek renewably sourced and sustainable solutions to use in more and more demanding applications. To meet this need a portfolio of renewably sourced engineering materials was developed. The products are designed to provide performance and functionality equivalent to or better than today’s petroleumbased materials while reducing the environmental footprint. The portfolio includes glass-reinforced thermoplastic grades for high strength and stiffness.
Zero-Emission Acrylic Thermoset Technology
Gero Nordmann, September 2009
In today’s environment there is an ever-increasing desire to ‘circle the square’ reaching high-performance durability light weight and manufacturing flexibility without increasing and even trying to lower overall system costs. This presentation will discuss a new enabling technology platform engineered towards these ends: cross-linked thermoset acrylics. These are non-flammable zero-emission systems that contain no volatile or hazardous components at any stage of their life cycle. They are easy to use in molding processes and ideally suited for today’s ‘greener’ lightweight automotive composites. Their application in natural fiber composites will also be outlined in the presentation.
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.
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.
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.
Life‐Cycle‐Analysis of Hot Beverage Cup Technologies: Coated Paper, PS Foam, and Expanded Recycled PET
Tom Malone, February 2009
A cradle‐to‐grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is performed to compare the environmental impact of using polymer‐coated paper, polystyrene foam, and recycled PET foam in the hot liquid cup applications. The study identifies the material, energy emissions, and waste flows of the products, processes, and services he environmental impact in terms of al warming potential for these alternative utilized over the entire lifecycle. Finally, t energy use, carbon footprint, and the glob technologies is quantified and compared.
An Innovative Equipment Solution To Reclaiming Post Industrial And Post Consumer Film That Contains High Levels Of Moisture And Printing
Kevin Slusarz, February 2009
This paper will show a new approach of venting high levels of volatiles on reclaim film. The paper will discuss how a cascaded extrusion platform can be utilized to remove high levels of volatile contaminates as material is extruded from a Ram Stuffer extruder and cascaded into a melt fed two stage extruder.
Engineered Recycling Systems for Post-Consumer and Post-Industrial Scrap
Brian Woodcock, February 2009
Auxiliary equipment manufacturers, specifically those who manufacture polymer filtration equipment, have learned through experience what designs and configurations work better than previous ones. Filtration demands today are not what they used to be. Utilizing recycled resin in extrusion is becoming more and more popular. In order to gain maximum efficiency utilizing recycled resins in polymer extrusion, the filtration equipment alone is sometimes not enough. Empirical data will be reviewed comparing several types of filtration media, along with scrap percentages successfully filtered. This data will help illustrate the benefits of one recycling system to another.
Automotive Applications & Expectations of Bio-Based Materials
Eric Connell, February 2009
From the viewpoint of greenhouse gas reduction and resource security, bio-plastics are attractive as carbon neutral polymer materials, but limitations currently exist for industrial usage including automotive applications. Although some parts made of polylactic acid (PLA) have been introduced to certain models in the past five years, in order to adopt bio-plastics extensively in the future, further research and development to overcome their technical issues is necessary. Bio-plastics are also facing non-technical challenges such as their economical aspect and stability of their supply/procurement. We need to deal with the recent situation of soaring prices of agricultural products and future uneasiness of cultivated land and water shortages while bio-fuel attracts recent attention worldwide, and also need to precisely prove the influence of bio-plastics on global environmental impact based on LCA through to material production, parts molding and their disposal. Recent progress on development of bio-plastic materials and automotive parts will be reported and our expectations and demands toward innovation of bio plastic technology will be discussed from the viewpoint of an OEM.
Recycling of Agricultural Film
Werner Herbold, February 2009
With more of the market of plastics scrap being sold into China and US users of recycled plastics try to escape the high prices. There is search for new sources of secondary plastics that are not yet under more or less “Chinese” control and high prices. One big source of raw material is post consumer agricultural film. Since it is often highly contaminated it was not considered being very much worth the effort of recycling. However this opinion is changing based on the rising costs of virgin resin and other forms plastic scrap. The contamination once removed, agricultural film is a very homogenous material that can be used after washing, drying and compounding for many kinds of transformation, from blow film to injection molding. The lecture describes the Herbold size reduction, wash, separation and drying equipment that ends with agglomerated PE-film, ready for compounding or direct transformation in an extrusion or injection molding process. The system comprises a primary shredder, a prewashing unit, a wet granulator, a friction washer, a hydrocyclone separation step to remove foreign plastics and other contamination, a centrifugal dryer, a thermal dryer, finally an agglomerator to produce densified film flakes, easy to transport, easy to feed into its end use in pelletizing, direct extrusion or direct injection molding. See www.herbold.com The problems of agricultral film recycling are to cope with the wear in the machines caused by the high amounts of earth and stones, to cope with the fact that the system produces up to 50% of non plastic output (sand, earth, stones, contaminations) besides the plastics, to cope with the fact that more and more very thin film is used in the business and more and more stretch film, both very difficult to dry. These obstacles can be overcome with the proper know how and equipment.
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.

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