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.
Biopolymer Compounds for Applications Requiring Marine Degradation
Mustafa Cuneyt Coskun, Stanley Dudek, May 2017

The tremendous production and consumption of plastics in various industries has led to some serious environmental concerns. The persistence of synthetic polymers in the environment poses a major threat to natural ecological systems. Therefore, some people believe that the use of biodegradable plastics is the only way to significantly reduce the environmental pollution due to plastic waste because biodegradable polymers can be environmentally friendly. Biopolymers or bioplastics are plastics which include living microorganisms in their production process. Bioplastics have the biochemical advantage of being totally or partially produced from renewable materials such as vegetable oils, sugar cane, and cornstarch, and can be biodegradable into carbon dioxide, methane, water, and inorganic compounds. Research studies have been performed to better understand the degradation of different degradable polymers in marine environments. Typically, these studies are performed on single polymers and not blends of polymers. In various applications, however, blends of different polymers are needed to fulfill the requirements of the application. This study was initiated to understand the biodegradation of biopolymer compounds made from blends of different biopolymers. Specifically, the mechanisms of the degradation and how the different mechanisms affect the use of the compounds in a marine environment were investigated. The specific application of netting for oyster bed rebuilding was the focus.

Innovation in Emerging Areas in Packaging
Narayan Ramesh, May 2017

Markets trends of cost reduction, consumer convenience, sustainability & down-gauging drive the need for new and improved packaging solutions. Development of such solutions requires a look across the entire value chain – an Asset to Market look. This talk will focus on what is required for a successful packaging solutions to be launched in a competitive space. Key examples will be presented and will cover the trends related to recyclability and downgaging.

Cellular Polymers for Oil/Water Mixtures Separation – Evaluation of Process Conditions
Pavani Cherukupally, Amy M. Bilton, Chul B. Park, May 2017

This study investigates the usage of cellular polymers for large scale oil/water separation. The model polyester polyurethane foam was characterized for sustainability and oil adsorption efficacy in a batch system. The temporal mass uptake and its efficacy were experimentally optimized at various temperatures and stirring speeds. With favorable surface, morphology, and bulk properties in conjunction with process conditions, and a mass uptake of 21 g/g of foam, this polymer lends itself as a very promising material for oil adsorption.

Degradation of PBSA in Water
Douglas Hirt, Mary Mitchell, Treyton Ryder, May 2017

The degradation of poly(butylene succinate-co-adipate) (PBSA), a biodegradable polyester that can be made from renewable feed stocks, was investigated in this work. PBSA-starch-furfural blends of up to 20 wt% corn starch and up to 15 wt% furfural were made to determine if these systems could be used to deliver a control amount of furfural, a known nematicide, for agricultural applications. The PBSA-starch-furfural blends were aged in distilled water for up to 30 days. There was only a slight downward trend in molecular weight of the PBSA and PBSA-starch blends over the 30-day aging period. Changes in the total weight of samples and the concentration of furfural in the water surrounding the pellets indicated that furfural was quickly released from the pellets and a total furfural release of 92% was achieved by day 10 of degradation.

Designing Electrical and Electronics Equipment for the Circular Economy by Using Recycled Plastics
Brian Riise, May 2017

In order to conserve resources and at the same time spur economic growth, the European Union is pushing to establish a Circular Economy. For global businesses, including manufacturers of electrical and electronics equipment (E&EE), some of the principles of the Circular Economy will likely be applied globally rather than just within the European Union. This paper describes how the recycling of plastics from shredded waste electrical and electronics equipment (WEEE) fits within the Circular Economy, and provides some guidance to manufacturers looking to incorporate these recycled plastics in new E&EE. Furthermore, we provide recommendations on the design of E&EE such that plastics may be recycled more easily in the future.

Developing a Soft Sensor Random Forest Model for the Inline Product Characterization of Polylactide (PLA) in a Twin Screw Melt Extrusion Process
Konrad Mulrennan, Marion McAfee, John Donovan, Leo Creedon, Fraser Buchanan, Mark Billham, May 2017

The melt processing of Polylactide faces challenges due to its poor thermal stability which is influenced by processing temperatures and shearing. The characterization of processed products takes place offline in laboratory environments. Typical scrap rates of a medical grade product can be up to 25-30%. This work discusses the development of soft sensor random forest models for a twin screw melt extrusion process. The resulting models can predict product end characteristics from inline data. These include mechanical properties and percentage mass change of a product during its degradation cycle. These models will act as novel inline indicators as to whether products will be in or out of specification. This will reduce manufacturing costs and minimize waste as well as accurately predicting future performance and behavior of products.

Sustainability of PVC (Vinyl) Pipe: A Comprehensive Environmental Review
Randel Dobbs, May 2017

• Thorough review of LCA data • Transparently report the findings to the water, sanitary sewer, and storm drainage industries • Support the goals and vision of the 2010 USEPA Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Infrastructure Sustainability Policy and the 2015 USEPA National Water Program on Climate Change • Ensures the long-term sustainability of water and sewer infrastructure • Comparative review of competing pipe products

Effects of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Processing on the Crystallization of Polyvinylidene Fluoride
Ji Eun Lee, Yanting Guo, Mirek Macecek, Siu N. Leung, May 2017

Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) is an environmentally friendly, durable and low-cost alternative to traditional piezoelectric materials in sensors and actuators. PVDF is a semi-crystalline polymer with different crystal phases. Among them, the polar ß-phase is the crystalline structure that is responsible for its piezoelectric property. Conventional technology for promoting ß-phase crystals in PVDF is mechanical stretching. In this paper, processing of PVDF with supercritical carbon dioxide (ScCO2) was investigated to examine its effect on PVDF’s crystallization behavior. In the long-run, elucidation of potential strategies to tailor PVDF’s crystal structures would help to identify feasible route to tailor PVDF’s crystalline structure for emerging applications including sensing and energy harvesting. The foam morphology of PVDF was analyzed by scanning electronic microscopy while its crystallization behavior was studied by differential scanning calorimetry and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Experimental results reveal that PVDF samples foamed at 120°C and 160°C under 2000 psi showed the highest crystallinity (54%) and volume expansion ratio (15.4 times), respectively. The crystallinity increase in ScCO2 processed PVDF represents a 16% increase over that of its compression-molded samples.

Environmentally Benign Processing of Poly(2,6-Dimethyl-1,4-Phenylene Oxide) (PPO) with Superheated Liquids
Md Arifur Rahman, Matthew Lok, Alan J. Lesser, May 2017

the expanding industry of polymer processing, a prominent area of current research is to process polymers efficiently without creating any environmental hazards. Processing of intractable polymers like PPO requires high processing temperature and toxic plasticizers. Very few research works have reported the use of superheated liquids to process intractable polymers. This research work presents a systematic study to explore the advantages of processing PPO with superheated liquids composed of ethanol and water. Microcellular foams of PPO having a density range from 0.13 to 0.56 g/cm3 can be produced with the aid of superheated ethanol, water and ethanol/water mixtures. Such foams also exhibit high specific strength. In addition, PPO can also be extruded with superheated ethanol or ethanol/water mixtures at a temperature which is 150 to 180 °C below the conventional extrusion temperature for PPO.

Evaluation of the Mechanical and Morphological Characteristics of PLA-Lignin, PLA-Tannin and PLA-CNF Composites
Muhammad Anwer, Hani Naguib, May 2017

PLA has now attained significant utility in the plastics and manufacturing sector. It high stiffness, strength and bio-degradability has made it an attractive option for in many applications including additive manufacturing. This paper presents the modification in properties of neat PLA with the addition of Lignin, Tannin and Carbon Nanofibers fabricated via high shear twin screw compounding. Lignin and Tannin were chosen as completely bio-based fillers and Carbon Nanofibers were chosen for their high performance and modest expense as compared with other carbon based nano-materials. Detailed morphological evaluation of the composites is also presented.

Fabrication of High Strength and Toughened Biodegradable Electrospun Fibers: Poly(Lactic Acid)/Biomax Blends
Sheikh Rasel, Remon Pop-Iliev, Ghaus Rizvi, May 2017

The objective of this study is to prepare a toughened and strengthened electrospun fibrous biodegradable poly(lactic acid) (PLA) mat blended with Biomax, an ethylene copolymer designed to modify PLA to improve toughness properties, using electrospinning. Morphological, thermal, mechanical, and thermomechanical properties of PLA/Biomax blends were investigated. Morphological findings indicated that the electrospun PLA/Biomax fibers were uniform and smooth with an average diameter of 1.4-1.5 µm when Biomax contents below 2 % (w/v). The addition of 1 % of Biomax improved both thermal stability and mechanical properties of PLA/Biomax fibrous mats. PLA/Biomax mats with 1 % (w/v) of Biomax exhibited the maximum tensile strength of 4.6 MPa and tensile modulus of 103 MPa showing 64.3 % and 101 % improvement; as compared to neat PLA values of 2.83 MPa and 51 MPa, respectively. Furthermore, the presence of 1 % Biomax into electrospun PLA fiber mats improved the storage modulus by 107.5 % compared to PLA fiber mat (41.5 MPa). Strong and toughened PLA/Biomax biodegradable fibrous mat might be potentially suitable to be used in packaging, filtration, reinforcement of composite, etc.

Fabrication of Polypropylene Bio-Composites Utilizing Camelina Press Cake
Brent Tisserat, Mark Berhow, Louis Reifschneider, May 2017

Camelina (Camelina sativa (L.) Crantz, family Brassicaceae) is an emerging oilseed crop which produces high oil content but has a press cake that contains glycosinolates which are potential health risks if employed as an animal feed. As an alternative to a dietaric use Camelina press cake (CAM) was employed as a filler material to fabricate lignocellulosic plastic composites (LPC). LPCs were generated by blending polypropylene (PP) with 25% or 40% CAM with 0% or 5% by weight of maleated PP (MAPP) via a twin screw compounding and injection molding. Injection molded test specimens had mechanical and flexural properties comparable to neat PP.

High Performance Polymers for Medical Device Applications
Suneel Bandi, May 2017

EVONIK is a technology leader for high-performance polyamides, EVONIK’s current portfolio of specialty polyamides include PA12, PEBA (flexible polyamide), bio-based polyamides, transparent polyamides, and polyphthalamide materials for the medical sector. From catheters and balloons to diagnostic equipment and surgical instrumentation, VESTAMID® Care and TROGAMID® Care are well established. EVONIK offers flexibility in the design and manufacturing through our new Bonding VESTAMID® Care and TROGAMID® Care grade polymers. EVONIK’s VESTAKEEP® Care PEEK materials are used in temporary contact and instrument applications, while VESTAKEEP® PEEK i-Grades are used for permanent implant applications. From spine and sports medicine, to drug delivery devices and heart valve applications, new compounds of VESTAKEEP® PEEK are designed to meet the specific application needs and performance demands of medical sector.

High Speed Twin Screw Extrusion for Biodegradable Polymer Blends: Analysis of Compatibility and Rheology Prediction
Bárbara A. Calderón, Margaret J. Sobkowicz, May 2017

This work examines the effects of high shear on the degradation and compatibility of blends of poly(propylene carbonate) and poly(butylene succinate) (PPC/PBS) in twin screw extrusion. Also, since solid PPC has poor flowing capabilities, different feeding methods for the TSE trials were compared for their ability to produce consistent results. The blends were compounded at 200, 500, 1000 and 2000 rpm. Viscosity measurements were used to estimate degradation, and it was found that the Maron - Pierce model for viscosity of composites accurately predicted blend viscosity at low shear. The viscosity change was inversely proportional to the screw speed, indicating matrix degradation. Moreover, the blend was more sensitive to thermomechanical degradation than the neat PBS. However, the molecular weight loss did not exceed 22% even at the highest screw speed of 2000 rpm. Finally, morphology investigation showed that the TSE blends had smaller droplet size with a broader shape distribution than the batch mixed blends. All results supported the idea that the high levels of shear stress are the governing factor in the morphology and the degradation of blends in twin screw extrusion.

Influence of High-Speed Extrusion on Structure and Properties of Bioplastics Blends
Margaret Sobkowicz, JeongIn Gug, May 2017

This work describes a novel, high-speed twin-screw extrusion process applied to blends of bioplastics. The blends were chosen for their ability to combine synergistic polymers to produce more robust bioplastics with diverse properties. The influence of interfacial reaction was also studied, both from the perspective of morphology development and final properties improvements. Immiscible PLA/PA11 blends were successfully compatibilized by in-situ reactive twin-screw extrusion. During processing, the molecular weight of PLA sharply decreased due to chain scission. Mechanical property improvement was realized through processing parameter optimization and addition of a chain extender.

Keratin Bio-Composites with Polysiloxane Thermoplastic Polyurethane
Firoozeh Pourjavaheri, Oliver A.H. Jones, Isaac Martinez Pardo, Frank Sherkat, Arun Gupta, Robert A. Shanks, May 2017

A sustainable resource in the form of chicken feather derived keratin was used to enhance the thermo-mechanical properties of polysiloxane-polyurethane bio-composites. Two methods, solvent–casting–evaporation–compression molding, and solvent–precipitation–evaporation–compression molding were used to create new bio-composites incorporating 20 %·w/w of chicken feather fibers into a polysiloxane-polyurethane matrix and the results were compared. A molecular modeling visualization indicated the possible existence of hydrogen bonding between fibers and polyurethane molecules. The thermo-mechanical properties of both the polysiloxane polymer and feather reinforced bio-composites were assessed using thermogravimetry, dynamic mechanical analysis and stress–strain measurements with hysteresis loops. The dispersion uniformity of the keratin fibers in the plastic matrix was investigated via macro photography. Addition of chicken feather fibers to the polysiloxane matrix was found to decrease the recovery strain and mass loss of the composites (at lower temperatures) but increase the elastic modulus, storage modulus, and char level (at higher temperatures). The results demonstrate that keratin derived from what is currently a waste product from the poultry industry (with significant economic and environmental disposal costs) can improve the thermo-mechanical properties of the tested bio-composites simply and cheaply, with potentially large cost savings and environmental benefits.

Latest Developments in TPO Stabilization for Automotive Applications
Emilie Meddah, May 2017

In the past few years started a race for performances in TPO compounds for Automotive applications. Lighter, stronger, more durable, better aesthetics, more sustainable, less smell, a large amount of requirements for a given part in vehicles is making new developments more and more demanding and challenging. Clariant Business Line Polymer additives, specialized in polymer stabilization, is introducing new solutions which provide most of the current performances requested by the OEMs and beyond. Heat and light stabilization, low odor, surface appearance, low/no blooming are some of the qualities provided by this new range of products dedicated to Automotive TPOs under the AddWorks terminology. Specific AddWorks have been developed for Interior, Exterior and Under-the-Hood applications, and will be presented here.

Long Fiber Orientation and Structural Analysis Using Moldex3D, Digimat and ABAQUS Simulations
Jessica Lin, Huan-Chang Tseng, Chia-Hsiang Hsu, Rong-Yeu Chang, May 2017

Long fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites open up exciting new possibilities for the green automotive industry, owing to excellent mechanical properties, advantageous weight reduction, and economical fuel consumption. However, fiber microstructure including fiber orientation and fiber length, is a very critical issue to cause anisotropy in mechanical properties and warps. For an injection-molded, long-glass fiber composite part, we use Moldex3D to obtain an accurate fiber orientation prediction. Thus, mechanical properties depending on the predicted orientation is calculated via Digimat. It is ultimate to explore changes in stress with respect to strain in the ABAQUS structural analysis. All of the predictions are compared with experiments herein.

Material Characterization of CF-Nonwovens with Thermosetting Matrices
Jasmin Mankiewicz, Michael Heber, Ernst Cleve, Jochen S. Gutmann, May 2017

Regarding the need of robust and lightweight materials there is an increasing market for carbon fiber (CF). Therefore blending fabrics produce a huge amount of valuable process waste like prepregs which are out of specification and end-of-life products. The carbon fiber is regained from polymer matrix by new recycling methods. These fibers are chopped and can be reused for manufacturing isotropic fleece by wet-laid process. Created fleeces are impregnated with thermosets by resin transfer molding (RTM). At the beginning the isotropy of the fleece is verified by a circular disk and a 4-point bending test. After that the influence of different fiber surface weights and homogeneity, as well as no significant effect of various dispersing agents are identified. In addition to that the interrelation between fiber volume content, fiber length and specific values (tensile strength, flexural stiffness, Young's modulus) is analyzed. Referring to the results for thermosets with virgin fibers the process is transferred to recycled fibers.

Mechanical Characterization and Fractography of PC, ABS and PMMA – A Comparison of Tensile, Impact and ESC Fracture Surfaces
Farzana Ansari, Christopher Lyons, Ryan Siskey, Suresh Donthu, Steven MacLean, May 2017

This work presents an effort to document and describe fracture surfaces for three commercially available amorphous polymers (PC, PMMA and ABS) each subjected to tension, impact and environmental stress cracking (ESC). We present mechanical properties as well as microscopic characterization at low and high magnification to distinguish between slow tensile loading, fast impact loading, and environmentally assisted creep failure mechanisms. Chemical surface analysis of select fracture surfaces was also performed to evaluate its utility as a failure analysis technique for identifying ESC failure. The fractographic atlas presented herein serves to assist others in identifying topographical fracture surface features and crack growth mechanisms of failed plastic components, and more accurately distinguish between pure mechanical failure and ESC-generated fracture, where possible.

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