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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.

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.

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.

Banana Fiber Composites for Automotive & Transportation Applications
Lina Herrera-Estrada, September 2008

The purpose of this work was to establish and optimize a process for the production of banana fiber reinforced composite materials with a thermoset suitable for automotive and transportation industry applications. Fiber surface chemical modifications and treatments were studied along with processing conditions for epoxy and eco-polyester banana fiber composites. Flexural tests show that banana fiber/eco-polyester composites have a higher flexural strength and modulus due to improved fiber/matrix interaction. Environmental tests were conducted and the compressive properties of the composites were evaluated before and after moisture absorption. The resulting banana fiber/epoxy composites were found to yield a flexural strength of 34.99 MPa and compressive strength of 122.11 MPa when alkaline pretreated with improved environmental exposure resistance. While the non alkaline pretreated banana fiber/polyester composites were found to yield a flexural strength of 40.16 MPa and compressive strength of 123.28 MPa with higher hygrothermal resistance than pretreated fiber composites with the same matrix.

Recent Developments in Renewable Resource-Based Resins
Darcy Culkin, September 2008

PowerPoint Presentation at ACCE 2008.

Samsung's Bioplastics for Automobiles
Brian Grosser, September 2008

PowerPoint Presentation at ACCE 2008.

E-Coat Sustainable Long-Fiber Thermoplastic Composites for Structural Automotive Applications
Raman Chaudhari, September 2008

Polypropylene and glass fibre (PP/GF) based Long Fibre Reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) are nowadays established as state of the art materials for semi-structural applications in the automotive industry. However PP/GF LFT materials are limited for producing automotive components for use in general assembly. The use of LFT based components for structural applications and their implementation directly into the body in white assembly is still a challenge for the automotive industry. In order to develop LFT materials for such applications a feasibility study to investigate the e-coating process sustainability of LFT materials was conducted. The current article addresses the developed LFT formulations and their basic mechanical properties. For this purpose polyamide / glass fibre (PA/GF) based LFT materials were thoroughly investigated. The change of mechanical performance of the LFT materials due to applied temperatures of the e-coating process was investigated by benchmarking of non-temperature-treated against tempered LFT specimens. In addition the combined influence of temperatures and chemicals on the LFT properties was evaluated by running the LFT specimens through the actual painting line that included e-coating and subsequent painting and drying processes. Finally it was found that it is possible to manufacture LFT parts capable of withstanding the e-coating process without causing major changes in the performance of the LFT materials.

High Performance Plastic Components for Engine Mount Applications
Hans-Juergen Karkosch, Holger Klink, September 2008

In the face of dwindling resources rising energy prices and increasing environmental pollution reductions in consumption and emissions are topics of increasing importance in all fields of technology. To achieve these goals specifically in the automotive industry new engine concepts are needed in connection with thorough-going implementation of lightweight construction. Whereas weight-optimized plastics components are already utilized in many vehicle subsystems and components steel and/or aluminum structures are usually used for load-bearing structural elements. This statement also applies fundamentally for the engine mounting subsystem. In this area plastics components have been used previously only for subordinate moderately loaded semi-components. Now for the first time a mechanically highly-loadable torque reaction mount has been conceived as a plastics structural part and implemented in the series production of a vehicle with a transverse-mounted engine. In addition to weight reduction it also helps create a more advantageous load distribution on the axles. Load reduction on the front axle has positive effects on driving dynamics and safety. The paper begins by stating fundamental requirements for components of engine mounting systems. The principle procedure in developing load-bearing plastics components includes the topics of integrative simulation laboratory component tests and in-vehicle testing.

Lightweight Structural Parts with Rigid Integral PUR Foams
Stephan Schleiermacher, September 2008

With climate change and the current situation regarding energy and environmental policy dominating the agenda car manufacturers are faced with the complex problem of drastically lowering the fuel consumption of their vehicles in order to reduce CO2 emissions. One way of tackling the problem is to pursue a consistent strategy of lightweight construction. Self-activated as well as thermally activated rigid integral polyurethane foams from BaySystems can help to realise reductions in weight. They are ideal for use in structural parts. The presentation covers some of their state of the art solutions and techniques followed by a vision of a new composite design for roof modules which combines the aforementioned polyurethanes and their processing technologies with a sprayed polyurethane barrier layer.

Natural Fibers Plastic Composites for Automotive Applications
Jay Amarasekera, September 2008

The use of natural fibers in composite plastics is gaining popularity in many areas and particularly the automotive industry. The use of natural fibers in polymers can provide many advantages over other filler technologies and areas of application appear limitless. The automotive industry is currently shifting to a “green” outlook as consumers are looking for environmentally friendly vehicles. Natural fibers are a renewable natural resource and are biodegradable which is an important characteristic for components that must be disposed of at the end of their useful life. They are recyclable and can be easily converted into thermal energy through combustion without leaving residue. Among the natural fibers with potential application as reinforcement for polymers curauá fiber is one that recently received special attention from researchers. Curauá is a plant from the Bromeliad family cultivated in the Brazilian Amazon region. The fiber is extracted from its leaves providing a high mechanical strength over traditional fibers like sisal jute and flax. We have developed thermoplastic composites using either curauá fiber or wood flour. These materials provided a lighter weight product with good physical properties and unique surface aesthetics. This paper reviews the properties of these bio composites in comparison with glass and mineral filled products. The products were tested in some automotive applications and the results will be discussed.

New Methods to Produce Reinforced Polyamide-6 for Improved Material Properties in Engineering Plastic Applications
Ab van Geenen, September 2008

Polyamide-6 is widely used in many mechanical applications also in automotive replacing more and more traditional materials such as metals thermosets and elastomers. Good process ability along with outstanding physical properties also long term stability under tough conditions and a high value recycling ability make this thermoplastic material also commercial interesting for new demanding machinery parts. A broad variety of materials is achieved by producing PA-6 “in situ” by anionic polymerisation of Caprolactam which can be performed on extruders on RIM machines or in different casting processes. Nano-Clay or Glass fiber reinforced granules short or long-glass fiber reinforced molded parts glass-mat reinforced manhole covers or wind turbine blades are some examples of Brüggemann’s AP-Nylon® Material applications completed by NYRIM® the wide range impact modified grades. This paper gives an overview of the new developments in this field we were involved in during the last 2 years.

Opportunities and Development of Bio-Based Materials for SMC (Sheet Molding Compound)
Dwight Rust, September 2008

Current and future changes in the automotive industry present an increased opportunity for thermosets. Bio-based materials in SMC present an opportunity to help automotive manufacturers in the US to meet the 2020 Freedom Car weight and 14.9 km/L (35 mpg) CAFÉ requirements as currently mandated by the federal government. Developments in the industrial bio-technology sector are also leading to knowledge to provide opportunities to use bio-based materials to provide solutions using SMC to lower costs and weight. The National Composite Center is leading collaborative efforts in the development of biobased resins fillers and reinforcements. The result of these collaborations in both biobased materials and the interface of nano technology are presented. The opportunities exist for the development of biobased materials to produce a lighter weight SMC.

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