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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.
Biobased Nanocomposites from Toughened Bacterial Bioplastic and Titanate Modified Layer Silicate: A Potential Replacement for Reinforced TPO
Amar K. Mohanty, September 2005

Biobased ‘green’ nanocomposites are the materials for the 21st century. Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) a bacterial bioplastic is recently highlighted because of its renewable resource based origin and its potential to replace/substitute petroleum derived non-biodegradable plastic like polypropylene (PP). The major drawback of PHB is its brittleness. This work investigates toughening mechanisms for PHB via incorporation of elastomeric components. Maleated polybutadiene with high grafting and low molecular weight was identified as the compatibilizer. The toughened PHB was characterized through their thermo-mechanical rheological and morphological analysis. The resulting toughened PHB showed ~440% improvement in impact strength over pure PHB with only 50% loss in modulus. The loss of modulus was recovered to permissible extent through incorporation of titanate modified montmorillonite clay. The hydrophilic clay was modified by titanate-based treatment to make it organophilic and compatible with the polymer matrix. The toughened PHB on reinforcement with 5 wt.% titanate based modified clay gave ~400% improvement in impact properties and 40% reduction in modulus over virgin PHB. The novel toughened bioplastic nanocomposites show potential as a green replacement/substitute of specific TPO for use in structural applications.

Feasibility of Continuous-Fiber Reinforced Blanks for Automotive Applications
Andrew Burkhart, September 2005

Recent developments in the rapid processing of continuous-fiber reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) offer a method for automakers and suppliers to manufacture high-performance structures that meet automotive cost performance and volume requirements. Benefits of thermoplastic composites include rapid processing high toughness ease of recycling long shelf life and multi-stage processing. CFRTP tailored blanks are flat net-shape preforms comprising aligned continuous reinforcing fibers in a thermoplastic matrix. These tailored blanks can vary in thickness fiber orientation material composition and shape based on part requirements. Main benefits include material efficiency low scrap and low weight. This paper investigates the feasibility of stamp forming CFRTP tailored blanks. Experimental results are presented showing effects of forming on consolidated tailored blanks and the potential for a high quality surface finish.

Hemp Fiber Reinforced Sheet Molding Compounds for Automotive Applications
Ellen Lee, September 2005

Natural fibers have been steadily gaining interest for use as a mechanical reinforcement material in place of fiberglass for thermoplastic and thermoset composites. In addition to their lower cost and lower density natural fibers are a renewable material and are less energy intensive to produce (grow) than glass fibers. In the current study hemp fiber reinforced SMCs (sheet molding compounds) were prepared and compared to conventionally reinforced glass SMC for cost density and mechanical properties. Continuous hemp fiber (in the form of twine) non-woven hemp mats fiberglass and hybrids (fiberglass/continuous hemp twine mixture) were examined. Severl commercial resins were screened for copatibility to the various fiber formulations and the effect of added compression during the compounding process was studied. In addition to mechanical performance moisture uptake measurements were performed for the hemp glass fiber reinforced materials. Selected SMC composites were evaluated against typical desired properties for automotive applications. Results show that certain formulations are currently close to target values. Next steps for additional optimization of composite formulation fiber dispersion fiber compatibility and moisture resistance will be discussed.

Introduction of Corn By-Products to Composites for Use in In-Line Compounding
Darin Grinsteinner, September 2005

Composite Products Inc. has been developing their Advantage and Advantage Plus In-Line Compounding Processes to use alternative rein forcements and filler materials for automotive and non-automotive applications. While fiberglass remains the favorite when it comes to reinforcing thermoplastic composites natural reinforcements are beginning to gain renewed interest. Corn by-products when added to polypropylene can offer several advantages. Corn by-products offer low cost weight savings environmental friendliness and relatively good material properties.

Polyurethane Structural Composites: An Innovative Process using In-Mold Decorating Films for Exterior Vehicle Parts
Paul Farkas, September 2005

The Woodbridge Group continues to progress with innovative composite technologies for high performance applications encompassing its extensive expertise in the PU fields as well as its growing experience in composites. This paper presents a novel fabrication technology of PU Composites applicable for vehicles. The novel technology is based on an open mould pouring process that allows the usage of relatively low cost tooling low tonnage presses as well as a high level of component integration and process automation for the production of performance products. The process eliminates the need of in-mold or post-painting of the finished part by integrating in the composite structure a high performance film as a decorative exterior layer that provides a high quality surface resistant to environmental factors. The new process allows the fabrication of relatively thin lightweight structural composite with flexural modulus in the range known in other technologies as Polyurethane Structural Reaction Injection Moulding (PU-SRIM) and Sheet Moulding Compound (SMC) with Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion (CLTE) compatible with the In-Mould Decorating (IMD) films. The specific gravity of the part dependent on composition is lower than for similar strength products manufactured via PU-SRIM or SMC. End-product performance easily matches or exceeds the requirements of general transportation or other similar applications.

Wood Fiber Composites from Recycled Polyolefin
Minh-Tan Ton-That, September 2005

Wood composites based on recycled polypropylene (PP) were fabricated by melt processing. Different formulations involving two different types of coupling agents two different types of reactive additives and an impact modifier (IM) were used. The reinforcements were in the form of wood sawdust. The mechanical performance of the resulting composites was evaluated before and after conditioning in water for 1 and 7 days. The composites show superior mechanical properties when compared with the pristine matrix and resist humidity very well. The results also demonstrate the effect of formulations on the performance of the recycled composites.

Wood Fiber Reinforced Poly(lactic acid) Composites
M.S. Huda, September 2005

Natural fiber-reinforced composites are increasingly being used in applications in the automotive furniture or building industry. The processing and physical properties of these composite materials are the very important parameters in respect to the design layout and product guaranty. This paper presents the results of the study of processing and physical properties of environmentally friendly wood fiber reinforced poly(lactic acid) (PLA) composites that were produced by a micro-compounding molding system. Wood fiber-reinforced polypropylene (PP) composites were also processed and compared to PLA/wood fiber composites. The mechanical thermal-mechanical and morphological properties of these composites have been studied. PLA/wood fiber composites have mechanical properties of sufficient magnitude to compare with conventional thermoplastic composites. The tensile and flexural properties of the PLA/wood fiber composites were significantly higher when compared with the virgin resin. The addition of 20 wt % of wood fibers in PLA/wood fiber composite improved the flexural strength of PLA by 19 % the flexural modulus by 115 % and the tensile strength and tensile modulus by 5 wt % and 77 % respectively. The flexural modulus (8.9 GPa) of the PLA/wood fiber composite (30 wt % fiber content) was comparable to that of traditional (i.e. polypropylene/wood fiber) composites (3.4 GPa). Incorporation of the wood fibers in PLA resulted in a considerable increase of the storage modulus (stiffness) and a decrease in the tan delta values. The addition of the maleated polypropylene coupling agent (MAPP) improved the flexural and Izod impact properties of the wood fiber reinforced composites. The morphology as indicated by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed good dispersion of wood fiber in the PLA matrix. Microstructure studies also indicated a significant interfacial bonding between the matrix and the wood fibers. The specific performance evidenced by the wood fiber reinforced PL

Blends of Polylactide with Thermoplastic Starch
P. Sarazin, M.A. Huneault, W. Orts, B.D. Favis, May 2005

Blends of polylactide with thermoplastic starch are prepared using a one-step extrusion process. These materials, subsequently processed via injection molding, possess interesting properties. The tensile properties in these samples are related to the composition of the blends and also to the glycerol plasticizer content in the thermoplastic starch. These materials possess an advantage for the environment since they are fully biodegradable and are derived principally from renewable sources.

Chain Extended/Branched PET-Organoclay Nanocomposites
Ulku Yilmazer, Ali Emrah Keyfoglu, May 2005

The effects of chain extension and branching on the properties of nanocomposites produced from recycled poly (ethylene-terephthalate) and organically modified clay were investigated. As the chain extension/branching agent, maleic anhydride (MA) and pyromellitic dianhydride (PMDA) were used. Both MA and PMDA improved the mechanical properties of the nanocomposite owing to the branching and chain extending effects that increase the molecular weight. However, PMDA gave better results at lower content.

Advanced Development of Molded Expanded Polypropylene and Polyethylene Bead Foam Technology for Energy Absorption
Steven R. Sopher, May 2005

Recent advancements in the field of polyolefin resins in the area of PP+PE copolymers, impact co-polymers, and homopolymers have allowed for the creation of a new class of thermoplastic foam products. These new products are capable of improved performance due to the advancements that have been made in the area of polyolefin resin catalyst systems. These new Metallocene catalysts are being used to create resins with improved mechanical properties that otherwise were not available using the traditional Ziegler- Natta catalyst systems currently being used to produce a majority of the thermoplastic materials available today.This paper describes these recent advancements and how they allow for improved properties in the area of moldable expanded bead foam used in the automotive, marine and recreational occupant safety and cushioning system designs. This technology allows for improvements in the mechanical properties of these thermoplastic foam components, while allowing them to be produced on existing processing equipment. This paper will also compare these advancements to those currently being used, and demonstrate how improvements in performance, system integration, and cost can be realized. Compliance to existing and new environmental substance regulations and restrictions are also addressed.

Characterization of Virgin/Recycled Nitrile Rubber Blends
M.A. García, M. Hernández, M. Ichazo, J. González, May 2005

Blends of Virgin and Recycled Nitrile Rubber within a blend ratio of 10-30 %wt recycled NBR were studied. Reference was made to mechanical and physical properties. Results obtained indicate that a maximum percentage of 20%wt recycled rubber can be added to a NBR formulation without diminishing considerably final properties, since higher percentages promote a premature vulcanization. Concerning chemical resistance, an excellent oil resistance and a very low resistance to polar solvents were obtained for all formulations.

Clay Nanocomposites Incorporated into Biodegradable Polymers
Matthew Jackson, May 2005

Nanocomposites based on biodegradable polycaprolactone (PCL) and mica clay organically modified with L-arginine were prepared through solvent blending. Their properties were analyzed with TGA, DSC, and tensile testing. The addition of the organically modified clay caused an increase in properties, but at large incorporation, properties began to decrease. Samples of 3%, 5% and 10% organically modified clay were compared to pure PCL.

Comparative Performance and Barrier Properties of Biodegradable Thermoplastics and Nanobiocomposites vs. PET for Food Packaging Applications
D. Cava, A. López- Rubio, L. Cabedo, E. Giménez, J.L. Feijoo, R. Gavara, J.M. Lagaron, May 2005

This paper reports about the comparative behaviour, regarding PET, of biodegradable biopolymers such as PCL, PLA and PHBcoV and their nanobiocomposites, in terms of thermal and retorting resistance (thermal humid processes) and oxygen, water vapour and aroma barrier by means of time-resolved synchrotron radiation, FT-IR and permeation methods.

An Investigation into the Reuse of Painted TPO Regrind
Adam Nadeau, Hardik Valia, Jeremy Perras, May 2005

Thermoplastic olefin (TPO) is currently the material of choice for automotive bumpers and fascias. The part is generally painted with thermoset paint after molding. Unless removed, this paint layer creates problems during recycling of rejected parts. It causes a change in the processing characteristics and properties. The techniques used for removing the paint layer from the TPO create additional steps in the process and adds extra costs. The concept studied is the possible reuse of painted regrind by reducing the paint particle size in an injection molding process; possibly eliminating the need for paint removal in some recycling applications.A modified progressive double row grater screw was used to reduce the particle size of the paint flakes. The physical properties of these material blends are compared to similar blends obtained using a general-purpose screw. It is shown that reducing the paint flake size has a marginal effect on mechanical properties. However, the surface finish is greatly enhanced when the paint flake size is reduced.

Degradaton Mechanisms and Environmental Effects on Poly Pphenylenebenzobisoxazole (PBO) Fibers
Alan J. Lesser, Xianbo Hu, Peter J. Walsh, May 2005

Recent reports have shown the fibers made from polyp- phylenebenzobisoxazole show a significant reduction in properties after relatively mild exposure to environmental conditions. This paper discusses potential mechanisms responsible for the degradation and reports results on degradation of fiber properties due to various environmental exposure conditions.

Design and Optimisation of a Standard Milk Crate Using FEM
S.H. Masood, Sachin K. Zanvar, May 2005

This paper presents an investigation on the design and optimization of plastic milk crates using the finite element method (FEM) with the aim of reducing the mass and simplifying the shape of a standard milk crate. The paper also explores the possibility of manufacturing such milk crates using recycled High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) instead of virgin HDPE or virgin polypropylene (PP) to make it more cost effective.

Dupont Sorona® Polymer: A New Sustainable Platform for Growth
Joseph Kurian, Randy Milby, Ray Miller, May 2005

Responding to environmental, sustainability, business and market needs, DuPont has recently commercialized a new polymer platform Sorona®. Sorona® polymer is produced from fiber-grade 1,3- propanediol (PDO). It is a linear semi-crystalline polymer with a melting temperature of ~228°C and a glass transition temperature of about 50°C. (See Figure 1)

Environmental Stress Cracking – Examples from the Automotive Indsutry
Jeffrey A. Jansen, May 2005

Four case studies are presented to illustrate environmental stress cracking (ESC) within automotive components. ESC is a very important mode of plastic component failure. The presented cases illustrate how the failure analysis process was used to identify the failure mechanism as well as the primary factors responsible for the failures. The four cases depict representative automotive failures involving varied designs and service conditions.

Bioactive Composites for Tissue Regeneration
G. Chouzouri, M. Xanthos, May 2005

A wide variety of bioactive composites for bone regeneration have been developed and investigated over the last decades. In order to promote bioactivity, certain types of glasses, ceramics and minerals are incorporated into biodegradable or biostable polymers. In this study, several established and novel fillers such as calcium phosphates, silicates and glasses were screened for bioactivity. Promising candidates were then incorporated into two different grades of poly-?-caprolactone by solution mixing, and testing was conducted in a simulated body fluid to determine in vitro bioactivity. At different time periods the exposed samples were characterized by SEM, EDX and FTIR microscopy in order to investigate the formation of the apatite layer needed for bone ingrowth. The screening results of this work produced suitable polymer/filler combinations for further in vitro and in vivo testing in different types of tissue engineering applications.

Erroneous, Accelerated, UV-Aging Results
John Spevacek, May 2005

It has been found that some thermoplastic systems survive accelerated UV weathering but fail in true environmental conditions. This is because quartz filters pass artificially high levels of 275 nm - 340 nm light, but artificially lower levels of longer wavelengths. For systems that are more reactive to longer wavelengths, the accelerated exposure tests provide false assurances of true weatherability. A specific example of this phenomenon occurring within polypropylene will be shown and discussed in detail.

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