A key focus at AMI’s at networking event on PVC Formulation is improving the sustainability of the industry starting with a look at the European PVC markets and recycling targets by the CEO of Vinnolit, Dr. Josef Ertl. The United States is subject to different legal pressures so formulations are changing in different ways particularly in stabilisation – Arkema will be giving a review of the US rigid PVC compounding trends. As with many aspects of business, the BRIC nations are growing fastest in the plastics arena and this year’s conference heralds a review of the expanding PVC markets in India by the leading company Reliance Industries.
PVC compounding and processing is in a phase of active development. There are several drivers for this including the global trend towards renewable chemistry, which includes bio-based additives and plans to produce more PVC resin from plant-origin feedstock. For example, Clariant Produkte (Deutschland) has developed lubricants from soya beans. The largest PVC compounders are all testing out the new bio-based plasticisers: for example, Arkema is working with Segetis on new formulations and Solvay Indupa in Argentina is conducting research with Varteco Quimica. Dr. Patrick Morel, who is the Director of R&D at Arkema PVC division will be presenting some of the findings. There are also new plasticisers from Emerald Kalama Chemicals. The soft PVC industry is working on better communication of the benefits of the materials now that the concerns over certain phthalate plasticisers are being addressed, and the lead group in this is PVCPlus.
PVC is well-tested and used in many long-term applications subject to extensive weathering and other factors, which can affect colour. BASF has looked at methods of improving long-term colour retention. Dr. Joerg Hocken of Sachtleben Chemie has a record of research in PVC formulation and is currently looking at aspects of white pigmentation adding the comment that it is “more than black magic”. Material protection is also the focus of Arch Biocides (recently purchased by Lonza): the company produces antimicrobials to extend product life and performance.
European REACH regulations are having effects on all aspects of the chemical industry. Ineos Chlorvinyls is reviewing the situation and the consequences for PVC. In addition, the legislation in various world regions to ban heavy metals in many products is affecting stabiliser selection and overall formulation, as other additives are required to achieve the same performance with the new substitute materials. Galata Chemicals is producing new stabilisers with a view to regulations as well as performance. The R&D division of Baerlocher is focusing additive research on market sectors, such as formulation for window profile extrusion and Chemson Polymer-Additive is looking at stabilisers for innovative PVC applications.
Foaming is another technology that has seen new developments. It is a common technique for reducing weight and cutting material use. ColorMatrix has liquid foam additives for sheet production and Dow Chemical has a breakthrough processing aid for foamed rigid PVC. In terms of stabilisation, Reagens Deutschland has focused on systems for foamed vinyl profile and sheet.
Nanotechnology is under investigation for commercial use in PVC: Professor Kalman Marossy of Borsodchem is reviewing the potential for nanocomposites, while Dr. Noreen Thomas of Loughborough University has studied ways of using sub-micron calcium carbonate particles to improve toughness.
PVC is one of the oldest, most established and predictable materials for many key applications including construction, medical devices, food packaging and automotive. Its properties and durability have lead to many decades of use with extensive benefits to mankind. The next generation of recipes will establish a foothold for the industry for the 21st century. PVC Formulation 2012 in March in Düsseldorf brings together expert compounders, material suppliers, international researchers and members of the industry supply chain to debate the market trends and technical developments across the world.