The Borealis' bench-scale reactors at its Innovation headquarters in Linz, Austria is set to play an important role in the company's strategy to accelerate product development. The polypropylene reactors - characterized by a high-level of automation and safety -in a new laboratory at its Austria-based Innovation headquarters have started operating and yielding results well beyond original expectations, the company release said. The bench-scale reactors are equipped with a plant process control system, and they accurately mimic full-sized reactors using Borealis' proprietary Borstar technology. Accordingly, this will aid the company reduce the time involved in product evaluations and bringing new products to market cost-effectively.
"Rather than limiting ourselves to a few test runs on a pilot plant, we can now carry out literally hundreds of tests right here in the laboratory, in the full knowledge that we can scale up to full-sized production and get similar results," says Dr. Alexander Krajete, Borealis polymerization expert and project manager for the new investment. A key factor behind the new success of the project is the superior gas purification system installed on the reactors. "It filters out every last component, which has a significant effect on catalytic activity," he says. "We can now work in the lab with the most sensitive metallocene catalysts and are seeing fantastic catalyst activity and process consistency, much better than we anticipated." The reactors produce bright white polymer particles with a highly uniform shape and without agglomerates or dust. According to company experts, the biggest challenge in getting the laboratory reactors up and running has been to manage the technical complexity as the project required highly co-ordinated know-how in mechanical, electrical, software engineering, and on top of this, application-driven knowledge in chemical and process technology.