PU Magazine International

I don’t understand the world anymore!

It’s been about a year that I came out in one of my editorials: Everyone was talking about the ­revolutionary concept of “Industry 4.0” (Internet of Things) and its significance for the future, and I felt like I belonged to a minority that didn’t understand what others where talking about.

Now I learn that Industry 4.0 is already an old hat. “Blockchain will revolutionize the Internet of Things in 2018” [1]. Again, I don’t have a clue what is behind the new term “Blockchain”. And again, I find helpful definitions in the internet, for example:

“Blockchains, whether public or private, are a real-time ledger of records stored in a distributed, peer-to-peer fashion independent from any central authority. Since every record is encrypted and time-stamped and users can only access and edit the block they “own” through a private key, it’s very secure. Every block is linked to the one before and the one after it, and whenever a change is made, the entire chain gets updated. Blockchain helps secure and streamline transactions efficiently without requiring intermediaries to manage the process. Blockchain technology is revolutionary in terms of record keeping and can track and document every change in a record or transaction” [2].

Really helpful?

Whereas YouGov, an international internet-based market research and data analytics firm, found out that 44 % of medium-sized enterprises are confident about the benefits of blockchains [3], the results of a survey conducted by Deloitte, a leading global consulting and management company, sound more realistic to me: “An understanding of the technology is uneven according to the survey. Nearly 40 % of surveyed senior executives still have little or no knowledge about blockchain, while other executives place it among their company’s highest priorities” [4].

And once again its’s all Greek to me and I get the impression that I am too old for the world. Maybe it’s time to take the new generation on board, which grew up with internet, smartphone and perhaps even with blockchains and bitcoins, and to write future editorials in a cross-generational team.

Surely, that has a slightly bitter taste for me because – as the only golfer in the team – I will lose the privilege to always include golf in my editorials. But here it comes for the last time:

Until then, as a passionate golfer I am looking for comfort and distraction from blockchains on the golf course. That’s where the world seems to stand still: although trainers are using video analyses and the “Trackman”, they are talking about attack angle, club path, face angle, impact factor etc., but in the end Ben Hogan, whose professional career goes back a long time (1930 till 1959), still serves as the role model for the perfect golf swing. But I have to admit that sticking to old technique may also involve disadvantages: My swing technique is almost the same as 15 years ago, and it is still as far from the perfect swing as the ball inevitably is from the fairway.


Wolfgang Friederichs


[1] https://web.eco.de/en/presse/blockchain-revolutioniert-2018-das-internet-der-dinge/
[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/01/10/blockchain-is-changing-our-world-here-are-the-best-practical-examples-of-how-it-is-used-in-2018/#544ac1ac4579
[3] https://www.industry-of-things.de/blockchain-wird-2018-das-iot-revolutionieren-a-671563/
[4] https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/innovation-blockchain-survey.html


Despite the slowdown of the GDP rate China still remains the biggest market for Asia – Interview with James Bao, Vice President Asia for Evonik’s Comfort & Insulation Business

With the takeover of the speciality additives business of Air Products at the beginning of 2017 and the opening of new plants in Shanghai and Nanjing, Evonik reports that it has significantly extended its activities in Asia. We had a chance to talk with James Bao, new Vice President Asia for Evonik’s Comfort & Insulation Business since 1 December 2017, about the role of Asia for Evonik’s PU business.


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Global automotive market slows down in 2018 – Diesel burdens Europe

Worldwide sales by car manufacturers will increase by 2.2 % to 87.3 million passenger cars in 2018. Growth in the global automotive market will thus continue to slow down, although the global economy will grow at a faster rate of 3.7 % in 2018 than in previous years, according to the latest forecasts of the OECD (Economic Outlook, Nov. 2017). The reasons for the divergent growth rates between the global economy (gross national product GDP) and the global automotive market are largely due to regional factors. New vehicles and product innovations will not trigger any extraordinary increases in demand on the global automotive market in 2018. In addition, a “manageable” range of Euro 6d diesel models is slowing Europe down. Today’s Euro 6 models are loaded with high NOx emissions during normal operation and are therefore left out of the equation by buyers in 2018. Once again, German premium manufacturers are stronger developing than the world market. Worldwide sales of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche are estimated to ­increase by 4.5 % in 2018, while the global passenger car market will only grow by 2.2 %.


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M&A in polyurethanes – the trends
Foam Expo North America 2018

Foam Expo is North America’s first free-to-attend exhibition and conference for the technical foam industry. The second exhibition, taking place on 6 – 8 March 2018 in Novi, MI, USA, will unite manufacturers and buyers of technical foam materials, products and services and will serve the entire foam manufacturing industry, including raw materials, chemicals, manufacture and process equipment and all associated services. The second annual conference will welcome industry-leading speakers for three days of in-depth industry discussions on the application, utilisation, and innovation of foam materials.

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Isopa celebrates 30 years of engagement

Isopa, the European trade association for producers of diisocyanates and polyols, celebrated its 30th anniversary of successfully engaging with key policymakers and communicating the benefits of polyurethanes to society. The event took place on 28 November 2017 in Brussels, Belgium. The evening consisted of speeches from Isopa President, Mike Fowles, and Isopa Secretary General, Jörg Palmersheim, as well as a light-hearted panel discussion with former Secretary Generals – moderated by Kristine Dewaele – and live music.


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Nanoaugmented Materials Industry Summit 2017

The third edition of OCSiAl Group’s “Nanoaugmented Materials Industry Summit” took place 15 – 16 November 2017 in Luxembourg. The event gathered together around 400 attendees from 30 countries to enjoy business networking opportunities while learning more about producing nanoaugmented materials with single wall carbon nanotubes.


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Digital structured flexible foams through InFoam printing

A creative design workshop co-organized by Covestro AG and the digital design lab at the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Applied Science in Münster, Germany, brought together young designers and architects to develop innovative ideas with the material portfolio of Covestro. This led to this ground-breaking development in the area of flexible foams. Called “InFoam” printing, the new manufacturing process allows the alteration of flexible foam properties by printing structures into a base foam to adapt the foams behaviour. Manu­facturers are not only able to eliminate several production steps, but also able to assign completely new functions to the foam. The InFoam printing process was further explored through a joint research project between Covestro AG and the University of Applied Science in Münster. A team of three researchers developed an early injection tool which could be used to create early prototypes. The prototypes documented the impressive potential of the technology. The InFoam printing project was first presented at the 2016 K’ fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. Since then, it was exhibited at numerous trade fairs and events.


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Self-healing polyurethanes – Opportunities and limits

Self-repair or self-healing phenomena have mostly been inspired by nature. One of the elegant processes, which nature has developed to repair damaged tissue is through self-immunity. Such a phenomenon if imported into polymeric materials, especially for polyurethanes is of great relevance to material scientists, since that would effectively eliminate the necessity of repairing a damaged material. Be it material chemistry or conventional polymer chemistry, such materials have attracted the imagination of both material scientists and chemists. With the advent and current progress of material science, supramolecular chemistry, dynamic covalent and non-covalent chemistry, such materials could be synthesized by accurate precision and custom made designs. Chemistry certainly took ­giant strides to make matter tailor made for our daily life. The need of the hour is to develop materials, which would be dynamic enough to carry out certain functions as elegantly as nature performs. Material scientists in combination with polymer scientists and chemists have bridged that gap to develop dynamic materials to convert those dreams into a reality. In this current article, we will focus on the synthesis of such elegant dynamic materials that have been developed, which are truly dynamic imparting self-healing features into them. We will also discuss the envisioned challenges and potentials for such materials finding their way to commercial success.


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Enhancing polyurethane toughness with spidersilk fibers

Seevix’s patented spidersilk is a biomaterial that exhibits great tensile strength and elasticity with toughness several times greater than that of Kevlar or steel. Polyurethane enriched with spidersilk fibers can be greatly enhanced. We found that enrichment of polyurethane PE 399 with Seevix spidersilk fibers significantly increases its Young’s modulus, tensile strength and toughness, while resulting in only a minor reduction in strain at break. Enrichment of different polyurethanes with spidersilk fibers has a minor effect on the transparency of the composite material, and Seevix’s fibers’ nanometric dimensions and aspect ratio of approximately 1,000 make them especially suitable for composite design. Other benefits of Seevix’s spidersilk include its thermal and chemical stability, biocompatibility, non-immuno­genicity, and high strength-to-weight ratio. This makes spidersilk enriched polyurethane highly suitable for applications such as personal body armor and functional textiles. Of special interest is spidersilk enriched polyurethane for medical devices due to the biocompatible properties of the fibers, as well as their ability to withstand high temperatures needed for sterilization. In addition, the manufacturing process of spidersilk is biological and petroleum free, and the fibers can be degraded to proteins. The use of spidersilk enriched polyurethane composites would also be beneficial to the automotive and aerospace industries, which are turning to environmentally friendly products, since lower composite weight results in higher fuel efficiency and a reduced carbon footprint.


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Silicone surfactants for low emission HR foams

Polyurethanes were invented in 1937 by Otto Bayer and his co-workers [1]. Flexible PU foams were developed and introduced in car seating later in the early 1950s. Further development of PU foams originated in the first low emission foams in the 1990s, due to emanations control was expanded into the subsurface materials used, like seat pads. Raw material suppliers were asked to explore the sources of emanations and work together with the OEMs to reduce their overall quantity. It was in this moment when silicone surfactants for low emissions have played a key role. This paper will review the different analytical methods used to analyse PU foam emissions and will also present the results obtained using new silicone surfactants with a chemical composition that has been specially designed to reduce the surfactant contribution to the total emissions, maintaining a good performance in PU foam properties.


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Opteon 1100: Continued advancements in spray polyurethane foam applications

The Chemours Company’s foam blowing agent Opteon 1100 (HFO-1336mzz-Z) is a low-global warming potential, zero ozone depletion, non-VOC blowing agent that is commercially available. Through the use of Opteon 1100, Chemours continues to demonstrate excellent insulation performance and application behavior in spray polyurethane foam (SPF). This paper will cover the use of Opteon 1100 in commercial scale SPF case studies, long-term foam aging studies, and continued application optimization efforts which extend the window of operability and performance.