SABIC introduces LNP ELCRIN iQ upcycled compounds to extend useful life of PET bottles and help reduce plastic waste
SABIC introduced its LNP ELCRIN iQ portfolio of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounded resins derived from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) to support the circular economy and help reduce plastic waste. By chemically upcycling consumer-discarded PET (primarily single-use water bottles) into higher-value PBT materials with enhanced properties and suitability for more-durable applications, the company is encouraging the use of recycled resins. These products also offer a smaller cradle-to-gate environmental footprint than virgin PBT resin, as measured by Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) and Global Warming Potential (GWP).
Better Properties, Longer Life than PET
SABIC's LNP ELCRIN iQ compounds and blends are based on upcycled iQ PBT resins, a proprietary SABIC technology. This technology overcomes some of the limitations of mechanical recycling by using chemical processes to depolymerize PET bottles and other PET waste into their precursor chemicals, purify them and then use them to create new PBT resin. The technology can deliver performance and processing benefits such as good chemical resistance, colorability, high flow for faster throughput and flame retardance (FR).
LNP ELCRIN iQ resin is a drop-in solution for virgin PBT and other conventional PBT materials, making it easier for manufacturers to make their products more sustainable. By displacing virgin raw material used to manufacture PBT, LNP ELCRIN iQ resin has been shown through peer-reviewed life cycle assessment to reduce the energy and carbon footprint of the material by up to 61 percent and 49 percent, respectively.
Further, each kilogram of LNP ELCRIN iQ resin uses up to 67 post-consumer PET water bottles (0.5 liter).
The ELCRIN iQ portfolio offers customers multiple options, including glass- and mineral-reinforced grades and non-halogenated FR and UV-resistant formulations. Some of the LNP ELCRIN iQ grades even have the potential to achieve compliance with U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) food contact regulations.
Potential applications for these new polymers include durable internal and aesthetic components for consumer electronics, automotive connectors, and housings for medical devices. Such applications can extend the useful life of the original, single-use PET resin, which helps keep the material out of the waste stream for a longer period.
“Consumer-discarded PET bottles lose value and performance properties through conventional mechanical recycling,” said Joshua Chiaw, Global Business Director, LNP, SABIC. “This downcycling process limits the types of applications for which rPET can be used. In contrast, SABIC's chemical upcycling process helps improve the performance and quality of the final resin product. As a result, these PBT materials are potentially more desirable for durable applications. Overall, LNP ELCRIN iQ materials can help reduce reliance on virgin resin and address industry and consumer demand for greater use of more-sustainable materials.”
“The development of LNP ELCRIN iQ materials is a major step forward for SABIC and illustrates our unyielding commitment to our customers, the global plastics industry, and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, which we joined as a founding member,” said Frank Kuijpers, General Manager, Corporate Sustainability, SABIC. “Our innovative process for chemical upcycling of single-use PET directly supports the AEPW's goal of developing new technologies that help minimize waste, make recovering and recycling plastics easier, and create value from all post-use plastics.”
SABIC LNP ELCRIN iQ grades are available worldwide.  The original peer-reviewed life cycle assessment study was completed by SABIC in 2011. The results are being reviewed and updated based on current models, with expected completion and peer-review in 2019.
Further information from: SABIC Europaboulevard 1 6135 LD Sittard, Netherlands +86 21 2037 8436 email@example.com www.sabic.com
Next-generation plastic that can be recycled into new materials of any color, shape, form
SCIENTISTS have made a next-generation plastic that can be recycled again and again into new materials of any color, shape, or form.
A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has designed a recyclable plastic that can be disassembled into its constituent parts at the molecular level, and then reassembled into a different shape, texture, and color again and again without loss of performance or quality. The new material, called poly(diketoenamine), or PDK, was reported in the journal Nature Chemistry.
Most plastics were never made to be recycled,” said lead author Peter Christensen, a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry. “But we have discovered a new way to assemble plastics that takes recycling into consideration from a molecular perspective.” Christensen was part of a multidisciplinary team led by Brett Helms, a staff scientist in Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry. The other co-authors are undergraduate researchers Angelique Scheuermann (then of UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Loeffler (then of the University of Texas at Austin) who were funded by DOE's Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program at the time of the study.
The researchers want to divert plastics from landfills and the oceans by incentivizing the recovery and reuse of plastics, which could be possible with polymers formed from PDKs. “With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively,” Helms said. Unlike conventional plastics, the monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives simply by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution. The acid helps to break the bonds between the monomers and separate them from the chemical additives that give plastic its look and feel.
“We're interested in the chemistry that redirects plastic lifecycles from linear to circular,” said Helms. “We see an opportunity to make a difference for where there are no recycling options.” That includes adhesives, phone cases, watch bands, shoes, computer cables, and hard thermosets that are created by molding hot plastic material.
The researchers first discovered the exciting circular property of PDK-based plastics when Christensen was applying various acids to glassware used to make PDK adhesives, and noticed that the adhesive's composition had changed. Curious as to how the adhesive might have been transformed, Christensen analyzed the sample's molecular structure with an NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy instrument. “To our surprise, they were the original monomers,” Helms said. After testing various formulations at the Molecular Foundry, they demonstrated that not only does acid break down PDK polymers into monomers, but the process also allows the monomers to be separated from entwined additives.
Next, they proved that the recovered PDK monomers can be remade into polymers, and those recycled polymers can form new plastic materials without inheriting the color or other features of the original material – so that broken black watchband you tossed in the trash could find new life as a computer keyboard if it's made with PDK plastic. They could also upcycle the plastic by adding additional features, such as flexibility.
LANXESS offers economic alternatives to polyamide 66
SPECIALTY chemicals company LANXESS will once again have its own stand at the “Fuse Box Meets Dryer – Plastics in E&E Applications” conference of the Süddeutsche Kunststoffzentrum. “In terms of topics, this year we are concentrating on cost-effective alternatives to polyamide 66 compounds, the application of our structural materials in the battery, powertrain and charging infrastructure of electric vehicles, and our growing range of halogen-free, flame-retardant polyamides and polybutylene terephthalates (PBT),” explains Marc Marbach, head of the E&E sales segment in the LANXESS High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit. Marbach: “We also want to showcase the extensive services that are customized specifically to the needs of the electrical and electronics sector and with which we support partners throughout the entire development chain for components.”
New halogen-free polyamides with stable orange coloring
The wide range of halogen-free flame-retardant polyamide 6, polyamide 66 and PBT compounds comprises both unreinforced material variants and those featuring up to 45 percent by weight glass-fiber reinforcement. For example, these include polyamide 6 compounds with high tracking resistance and high glow-wire resistance on the finished part, which are very well suited to applications in unsupervised operated household appliances, and metal- and halide-free product types for components such as high-voltage connectors near the car battery and the electric powertrain that must not corrode over the long term. All products are free of red phosphorous and can therefore be colored in light shades. Marbach: “We have now developed formulations with high thermal stability, with which polyamide 6 types, such as Durethan BKV30FN04, can be dyed in an orange shade, as per RAL 2003.” The orange color in particular increasingly plays an important role in labeling electric and electronic high-voltage components with respect to safety and function.
Halogen-free and high laser transparency
In addition to the automotive industry, laser transmission welding is increasingly establishing itself in the electrical and electronics sector in series production of complex plastic components. HPM has thus expanded its portfolio to include halogen-free flame-retardant, glass-fiber reinforced polyamide 6 and polyamide 66 compounds, which are also laser transparent, to meet increased demand for such specialties. “The compounds are equipped with new, thermally stabilized flame-retardance packages that ensure that hardly any deposits are left in the tool during processing,” says Marbach. Polyamide 66 Durethan AKV30FN04LT is one example of these materials, which, in addition to a high level of laser transparency, has a high tracking resistance.
Halogen-free flame-retardant polyamide 6 and PBT as an attractive alternative to flame-retardant polyamide 66
The shortage in raw material capacities has led to supply-bottlenecks and major price increases for polyamide 66 compounds. This also applies to flame-retardant materials, which contain red phosphorous as a flame retardant. Many producers in the automotive industry and electronics sector are now looking for opportunities for substitution. HPM has numerous polyamide 6 and PBT compounds that, in many cases, can be used as cost-effective alternatives and are technically on par. “We have put together a team to help customers across industries to find alternative materials,” explains Tim Albert, head of the international team. Potential substitutions arise, for example, in connectors, housing parts, line circuit breakers and visible components of household appliances. For instance, the unreinforced, halogen-free, flame-retardant PBT Pocan BFN2502, with its high tracking resistance and high strain at break, is suitable for connectors, some of which are currently still made using polyamide 66.
Great potential for use in batteries for electric vehicles
LANXESS has tailored polyamides and PBT compounds for components in the lithium-ion battery, the electric powertrain and the charging infrastructure of electric vehicles. They offer numerous advantages in terms of cost reduction, lightweight design, functional integration, flame-retardant properties and heat conduction. Potential applications include module covers and cover plates, high-voltage connectors, housing parts for control units, cell holders and media pipes. One example of these materials is the easy-flowing high-modulus polyamide 6 Durethan BKV45FN04, featuring 45 percent by weight glass-fiber reinforcement. Thanks to its halogen-free flame-retardant package, it passes the UL 94 flammability test with the best classification of V-0 (0.4 millimeters).