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As a Cologne resident, I am currently looking quite curiously over to the "forbidden city" of Düsseldorf. There, a so-called dwell ban was recently imposed on individual areas of the city on weekends to counter the spread of the Corona virus. On the Rhine promenade, for example, people are required by city ordinance to keep moving. No standing still to enjoy the magnificent view, no leisurely lingering on one of the many benches ... No, if you stand still, it can be really expensive for you. That's why it's important to avoid standing still at all costs. What is currently the maxim for the Rhineland microcosm naturally also applies to our industry. Here, too, standstill can be expensive. Although the industry was slowed down by the Corona crisis and had to accept production losses in many areas, and even spending on research and development was cut in many places, it did not come to a standstill. In this issue of PU Magazine, we have again collected many good examples of progresses and new developments in polyurethanes.
Klaus Junginger, Managing Director of the Specialist Association Foamed Plastics and Polyurethanes e. V. (FSK), reports on the immense progresses his association has made in the practical implementation of the EU's Diisocyanates Directive, which was adopted in August 2020.
Greenseal introduces non-isocyanate curing flexible foam systems which is another interesting progress in the field of OCF. The major advantage of the new process is the non-exposure of free isocyanate to DYI and construction workers. Talking about OCF … we have summarised the major findings of IAL’s new market study on SPF and OCF markets for you. Angela Austin takes a look at the flexible foam industry in Turkey. Latest advances in the field of using CO2 as feedstock for polymer production are described by nova-Institute and Covestro.
Cutting specialist Bäumer is for the first time in its 75-year history managed by a non-family member. In an interview the new guy Christoph Hauck talks about his expectations and goals. Polyurethanes are instrumental in shaping a sustainable future. We report about Dow Polyurethanes' two-day virtual conference where industry experts and partners discussed trends, industry insights, and opportunities.
Srikanth Pilla and James Sternberg from Clemson University have found a way to produce a nontoxic, bio-based and recyclable PU based on lignin, that could be marketed for high value applications. They introduce a 100 % plant-based non-isocyanate PU foam capable of chemical recycling. Matthias Hübner reports on Caparol’s tailored colour masterbatches, which are not only colourful, but also prove to be extremely effective process aids for TPUs and other TPEs.
Speaking of Düsseldorf – as a staunch Cologne resident, I actually quite like to avoid setting foot in the state capital. However, I will make an exception in October 2022, when the world's leading trade fair K opens its doors. The pandemic and the ban on lingering on the banks of the Rhine will then be a thing of the past. Polyurethane materials will once again be prominently represented at the world's most important trade show for the plastics and rubber industry, making the trip to Düsseldorf a worthwhile experience.
Even for me!
In August 2020, the EU decided to restrict diisocyanates. Accordingly, in the future, all diisocyanate users must be trained in the safe handling of the chemical. In this interview, FSK Managing Director Klaus Junginger explains this new regulation’s impact on the industry.
On 1 January 2021, Christoph Hauck took over the management of Albrecht Bäumer GmbH & Co. KG as sole managing director. Nina Patisson, the great-granddaughter of the company's founder and former CEO, retired from operations on 1 February 2021, but will continue to support the company in her role as shareholder. For the first time in the company's 75-year history, Bäumer will now be managed solely by a non-family member.
According to the Deinze, Belgium, based company Greenseal NV, there is a trend to develop polyurethane systems, which do not contain free isocyanates, like monomeric MDI, present in One-Component Foam (OCF), having all formulation ingredients in a single (aerosol) can, which after spraying gives a froth with cellular structure that cures by air humidity. Typically, substrates to build OCF formulations are aromatic polyisocyanates, like polymeric MDI (“pMDI”), well known in the construction foam industry.
IAL Consultants has recently announced the publication of the seventh edition of its report entitled “Global Overview of the Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) & One Component Foam (OCF) Markets”. This new study updates and expands the information included in the previous report, published in 2018. Data within this study have been generated through a lengthy programme of primary interviews conducted throughout the industry during the fourth quarter of 2020. This report contains data on the production and demand for both SPF (in tonnes) and OCF (in tonnes and number of cans equivalent) in 2020 and forecasts to 2025, split by major geographic region and country. In addition, the SPF closed-cell and open-cell production volume split, with related raw material consumption for country markets in each region, is provided for 2020.
Turkey is the second largest foam producer in Europe, after Poland. Although there are many foam producers in the country, production is dominated by four major producers. Main end-use markets are the furniture and bedding sectors and the automotive industry. Currently the Turkish foam industry is facing a raft of challenges including weakening domestic demand, a weak tourist industry, high inflation rates and a devaluation in the Turkish Lira.
According to European Plastics Converters (EuPC), the European market for polymers has been under pressure for several months and the negative consequences of raw material shortages and price increases are seriously impacting the production of plastic products in the EU. Plastic converting companies all over Europe report difficulties in getting the necessary raw materials to keep their production running, and alarmingly low stocks.
Nova-Institute has published a completely revised and extended third version of its technology and trend report “Carbon Dioxide (CO2) as Chemical Feedstock for Polymers – Technologies, Polymers, Developers and Producers”. The nova report addresses the polymer industry, brands, technology scouts, investors, and policy makers.
With the right catalyst and process technology, it is possible to produce raw materials for plastics production from carbon dioxide. Covestro is working with partners on a number of projects for this purpose. Novel CO2 components are already available on the market for different types of plastic. The goal is to use carbon dioxide for as many applications as possible.
Porex Corporation, a business unit of Filtration Group, has launched sustainable product development capabilities to help manufacturers with early product development across all three porous technology platforms. According to the company, by working with its experts in material innovation and leveraging the latest technologies for sintered particles, bonded fibre and open-cell foam, manufacturers can create more sustainable products that can be used in various applications in the air care, cosmetics, diagnostics, consumer, healthcare and industrial markets.
The scientists Jincheng Dong,a Binyuan Liu,a, b Huining Ding,a Junbin Shi,b Ning Liu,b Bin Dai,b and Il Kimc from the aHebei University of Technology, Tianjin, China, the bShihezi University, Shihezi, China, and the cPusan National University, Busan, Korea, have synthesised a series of isocyanate-free polyurethanes (NIPUs), showing an intrinsic thermo-healing performance, from sustainable vegetable oil-based cyclic carbonates and bio-based amines.
Dow Polyurethanes, a business division of Dow, has set in motion a process to accelerate the digitalization of its business and to advance the development of sustainable technologies to meet long-term market needs. As part of this approach, industry experts and partners have joined Dow to discuss trends, industry insights, and opportunities in the virtual event “Shaping the Future with Polyurethanes” on 22 and 23 March 2021.
The company ebalta Kunststoff GmbH has been working for a long time to make a contribution against climate change. With the certification of carbon neutrality from January 2021, a decisive step has been taken.
Bio-based solutions to polyurethanes have largely focused on replacing the polyol portion of the reaction mixture so far. Replacing the isocyanate portion is much harder since tried and true reagents are very reactive and allow for the foaming and curing reaction of PUs to occur on industrial timescales. In addition to the issue of toxicity, PUs are also some of the least recycled plastics produced. The crosslinked nature of many PUs precludes the ability to reprocess the material at its end of life. While there are some examples of physical recycling, the large scale conversion of waste PUs to high value products has not met with commercial success. The research presented here aimed to address the overarching issues related to the lifecycle of PUs by enabling a non-toxic, bio-based and recyclable PU that could be marketed for high value applications.
Dispersive and distributive mixing processes are major elements in the manufacture of thermoplastic masterbatches and compounds. Continuously working twin-screw extruders and kneader systems are mainly used for compounding. A crucial restriction of these mixing devices is the limited dwell time of the components to be mixed. Caparol Industrial Solutions GmbH is a company that has specialised in the manufacture of primarily liquid and paste-form pigment and additive concentrates. Discontinuously working mixing and dispersion machines, such as roller mills, bead mills or dissolvers are used in particular in the production of these concentrates.
This is where the compounds and masterbatches of the NEFA MB product group come into play. The combination of discontinuous mixers and twin-screw extruders can manufacture very highly filled, specialist products on the basis of special thermoplastic elastomers.
In the area of colour masterbatches, NEFA MB concentrates stand out because of their very high pigment fill levels. The manufacturing process employed makes the use of dispersion agents completely unnecessary. This can be an advantage for TPE tints in particular, since dispersion agents may lead to film formation on the component surface in some cases. Because of the colour intensity of the NEFA MB masterbatches, even TPEs with a strong colour of their own due to fillers, for example, can be tinted brilliantly with comparatively low quantities of masterbatches.