Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives 17-06-2022

Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

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-Optical sensor sorting

Stadler is introducing a new Stadler PX acceleration conveyor. It is intended to meet the demand for higher throughput in sensor-based automatic sorting, which can operate at higher working speeds. To achieve the desired result, Stadler has integrated features of its popular BB and DB conveyors, and has taken the opportunity to introduce a host of improvements. They include a new air stabiliser for consistent sorting quality at faster speeds with light materials, resulting in good purity of the output.

Corinna König, Team Leader Product Management explains, “We found that we were increasingly combining our BB and DB conveyors in customers’ projects to achieve the desired result, so we developed the PX, which combines the best features of each into one conveyor. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

This means that our customers now have only one machine to operate and maintain, simplifying their operation and reducing their costs.”

The new PX conveyor carries over the solid frame construction and long service life of its predecessors, the BB and DB models. It features a slot to fit a sensor under the belt and is easily compatible with NIR and EM sensors from a variety of manufacturers. It offers a belt speed ranging from 3.2 m/s to a fast 4.5 m/s, and can be specified with two motors to ensure the necessary torque at the required speed. The head drum is available in a choice of two diameters: 125mm and 220mm for the best detachment of the material.

The material on the conveyor is accelerated and straightened, so that the sensors fitted in the slot are able to detect accurately the material on the conveyor at all speeds. An optional stabiliser further improves performance by optimising the positioning of the material on the belt with an air flow. The result is a higher throughput with high sorting quality and a higher purity levels of the blown-out fraction – even at the top speed with light materials such as paper or film.  Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

The PX benefits from a compact size and is designed for easy transport. The frame, with the belt already mounted, can be separated into three or four sections, depending on the length of the conveyor. These can be stacked for transport and are simple to reassemble on site. Even the model with the widest, 2,900mm belt can be loaded on standard trucks or containers, also cutting down on transport costs.

Optical sensor sorting

-May German inflation at 7.9%; very high for 3rd month in row post 1990

The consumer price index (CPI)-based inflation rate in Germany was 7.9 per cent in May this year—an all-time high for the third month in a row since German reunification.

The Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) attributed the high inflation primarily to price rise for energy products. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

But it also sees price increases for many other goods, especially food.

“A similarly high inflation rate was last recorded in the former territory of the Federal Republic in winter 1973/1974 when mineral oil prices had sharply increased as a consequence of the first oil crisis”, Destatis president Georg Thiel said in a release.

In March 2022, the inflation rate had stood at 7.3 per cent and in April this year at 7.4 per cent. Consumer prices in May this year were up by 0.9 per cent over April.

The increase in energy prices observed already before the war in Ukraine has markedly accelerated since the war started and it has a substantial impact on the inflation rate, Destatis noted.

Additional factors are delivery bottlenecks due to interruptions in supply chains, also caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and marked price increases at upstream stages in the economic process.

Price increases accelerated for consumers not only regarding energy products but also other products, such as many food products again, as a consequence of the situation of war and crisis.

Energy product prices in May this year were 38.3 per cent higher than in the same month a year earlier, following a 35.3 per cent increase in April 2022.

Natural gas prices (55.2 per cent rise) and motor fuel prices (41 per cent rise) increased considerably. The price rises for the other energy products were markedly above the overall inflation rate, too, for example the prices of solid fuels (33.4 per cent rise) and of electricity (21.5 per cent). Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

The price increase for energy products was due to several factors. In addition to the war- and crisis-related effects, the increase in the carbon dioxide charge from €25 to €30 per tonne of carbon dioxide, that became effective at the beginning of the year, had an impact in Germany.

Plant-based-plastics - Graphene-additives

-New plastics prepare for takeoff

Plant-based plastics are only just starting to be more widely accepted

Plant-based plastics are only just starting to be more widely accepted. But challenges remain. If new plastics are an industry preparing for takeoff, then they are taxiing down the runway with the accelerator at full throttle. But the wheels haven’t yet left the ground: cost, production and disposal  issues are preventing lift-off.

Existing petroleum-based plastics are durable, lightweight and ideal for use as food packaging but their role in climate change, waste, marine pollution and poor air quality means they need to be phased out. It’s time for new plastics to take flight.

The leading contenders to replace petroleum-based plastics are bioplastics. These have a similar molecular structure and qualities but are derived from natural resources such as plant-based starches and vegetable oils, and/or will decompose when disposed of properly.

Global production of bioplastics is expected to double from around 2.4 million tonnes in 2021 to around 5.2 million tonnes in 2023. Partly driving this demand, several food industries, especially those involving single-use applications, are starting to use bioplastics. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

Last year, Coca-Cola announced a limited run of a 100-percent plant-based plastic bottle. Three years ago, Qantas ran an experimental zero-waste flight.

Among the most studied bioplastics are poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs). Both are polymers: long chains of repeating molecular subunits.

PLA is assembled, using conventional chemistry techniques, from renewable ingredients, particularly sugar and starch. It is sometimes used as a clear plastic tub for take-away salad or as a bubble-tea cup.

PHAs are a family of related polymers assembled by various bacteria (for example Alcaligenes eutrophus and Ralstonia eutropha) as energy-storage molecules.

PHAs are produced by fermenting sugar or lipids with the bacteria and extracting the polymer from the cells. PHA disposable knives and forks might accompany airline meals.

Traditional plastics are not often recycled and are discarded or incinerated with other solid waste. But PLA and PHAs are biodegradable they are broken down by microbes in the right environmental conditions.

PLA is biodegradable under industrial composting conditions (at a temperature of about 58C) but may remain for up to 1,000 years in the ocean. PHAs are biodegradable in compost and also in marine environments.

With about 450,000 tonnes produced in 2021, PLA is among the largest produced biodegradable polymers in the world. But bioplastics face many challenges before they can be more widely adopted. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

One of these challenges is cost. At around US$10 per kilogram, PLA’s price is still high. Increasing production efficiency and competition will likely drive prices down.

Similarly, new techniques to produce PHAs more cheaply are being explored. One research direction is to produce PHAs using inexpensive carbon feedstocks such as crude glycerol, a byproduct of biodiesel.

New plastics prepare for takeoffPlant-based plastics are only just starting to be more widely accepted

-Nanotechnology firm boosts plastic strength with graphene additives

Nanotechnology company Gerdau Graphene has announced that it has created graphene-enhanced plastics, which produce significantly less waste across the value chain. The new materials are also reportedly stronger, better-performing, and cheaper to manufacture than traditional plastics.  Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

Gerdau Graphene bagsIn partnership with Brazil’s EMBRAPII SENAI/SP Advanced Materials Unit, Gerdau is developing graphene additives for virgin resins, as well as post-industrial and post-consumer recycled plastics and polymers, including PP, PE, polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), PVC, and more.

The company has recently created new graphene-enhanced polymeric resin masterbatch formulas for polyethylene (PP) and polypropylene (PE). The first commercial deliveries are expected this month, with the masterbatches currently being trialled in a series of industrial applications in Gerdau’s factories.

Speaking to Resource, Alexandre Côrrea, CEO of Gerdau Graphene detailed the potential uses of the graphene-enhanced plastics: “The masterbatches are suitable for application in several polymers processing methods, as we can develop different formulations for different uses.

“For example, one customer (which we cannot name publicly at this time) is using our masterbatches to produce flexible packaging for consumer goods. Our masterbatch is not restricted to flexible film products, and can also be used for PE and PP rigid injection molded, blown molded, thermoformed, or extruded parts.

“For now, we are focusing on the main applications for PE and PP in the market, so when it comes to PE, most of our developments are related to flexible film extrusion, and as for PP, we have been developing solutions for parts produced by injection molding.”

Discovered in 2004, Graphene is a one to ten atom-thick sheet of densely-compacted carbon that can be modified for various uses and added to industrial materials. The material can be mixed with plastics, lending its strength to the plastic matrix, as well as increasing barrier properties against liquids and gasses, and boosting protection from weathering, oxidation, and UV light. Graphene’s addition also increases electric and thermal conductivity.

Côrrea added: “Plastic is a critical life-saving material that is now used in almost all products in every industry around the world, and its invention has radically transformed how humans live.  Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

“The biggest challenge we face is how to make plastics better by improving its material qualities, reducing costs, and increasing sustainability throughout its lifecycle. We are now addressing all of these goals.

Plant-based-plastics - Graphene-additives

-Generation mint-based textile odor control technology

HeiQ and Patagonia take their long-standing research collaboration to the next level and announce the launch of a jointly developed odor control technology for textiles, HeiQ Fresh MNT – renewably sourced mint oil-derived textile technology to control malodor development on textiles. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

The long-standing research partnership between Patagonia and HeiQ resulted in yet another innovative solution for a problem on many textiles – malodor. Inspired by Patagonia’s determination to continuously improve the chemistry used on all their products, the two pioneers announce the launch of HeiQ Fresh MNT, next generation sustainable odor control based on essential mint oil derived from a renewable and sustainable source.

The similar environmental and social philosophy shared between Patagonia and HeiQ was the backbone for the two brands to embark on an intense research partnership since 2015. Patagonia gives the ideas and sets the principles, HeiQ uses its expertise in specialty chemical formulation and application to textiles to create finishings that outperform the market in terms of sustainability and functionality.

Next Level Sustainable Odor Management

HeiQ Fresh MNT is the latest addition to the HeiQ Fresh family of sustainable odor management technologies, complementing the company’s mineral-based HeiQ Fresh HAX and the bio-based HeiQ Fresh FFL. HeiQ Fresh MNT uses a renewable and responsibly sourced mint oil-derived textile technology to control malodor development on textiles, providing fabrics with a long-lasting odor control capability that keeps garments smelling fresh and wearers feeling clean and comfortable all day long. Based on test method ISO17299-3A using isovaleric acid, treated synthetic fibers more than double the odor control efficiency versus current industry standards.

HeiQ Co-founder and CEO, Carlo Centonze, says: “Our partnership with Patagonia has always been productive as they constantly stretch our innovative capabilities. It therefore comes as no surprise that we were able to discover the powerful properties of mint as an active ingredient for our next generation odor control technology. HeiQ Fresh MNT is further confirmation of our dedication to enhance people’s lives with sustainable innovation.  Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

Generation mint-based textile odor control technology

-CHEP showcases sustainable, modular packaging solutions for EV batteries at The Battery Show in Stuttgart

Supply chain and logistics solutions leader anticipate disruption with an agile and sustainable approach to battery transport Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

Already speaking earlier this year on the evolution of packaging to support electric vehicle (EV) battery development at Odette’s Building Solutions for Sustainable Supply Chains conference, CHEP will offer a live demonstration of its innovative and sustainable packaging solutions on its stand at The Battery Show Europe at the Stuttgart Messe on June 29, 2022.

Part of the Brambles group, CHEP Automotive uses 10 million crates and containers to offer a ‘share and reuse’ pooling service to its 5,000 customers. With passenger EV sales projected to increase from 6.5 million in 2021 to over 70 million by 2040 (BloombergNEF), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) around the world face the challenge of packaging and transporting dangerous and costly lithium-ion batteries.

If EVs are hailed as the answer to climate problems, their manufacture and transport cannot generate a sizeable carbon footprint. With the composition, design and size of batteries constantly evolving, most OEMs however – whilst waiting for more standardization to arrive – still use one-way packaging to transport lithium-ion batteries rather than investing in more robust and reusable alternatives.

As part of the supply chain is already standardized – shipping and trucking containers of set dimensions – CHEP has found a way to work with their recycled and reusable plastic containers (EuroBins and IsoBins) that have already been designed to optimize transportation volumes and reduce empty transport miles. The innovation lies in the bespoke development of adjustable thermoformed trays and inserts to optimize the loading of those same UN-certified bins. These inserts can be easily redesigned over time and are cheaper and quicker to replace than the plastic containers themselves.

“Standardization and sustainability are buzzwords when it comes to the EV battery supply chain. But with a moving feast of electric batteries and current supply chain challenges, we are in a ‘just in case’ rather than a ‘just in time’ scenario. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

Plant-based-plastics - Graphene-additives

-ANA-U relies on injection moulding technology from the Wittman Group

For just under three years, ANA-U has been producing moulded parts from natural substances under the “Green Quality” brand. These consist of 100% of plant-based renewable materials and are compostable just like wood.

The Green Quality moulded parts are manufactured on an all-electric from Wittman Battenfeld. Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

The EcoPower 160/750 is equipped with a fully integrated Wittman W918 robot, which removes the parts and deposits them on a conveyor belt. A Wittman Tempro basic C90 temperature controller and a Gravimax 14 gravimetric blender are also integrated in the machine’s UNILOG B8 control system.

Ewald Ulrich, founder and CEO of ANA-U, is very satisfied with the equipment from Wittman Battenfeld. Ewald Ulrich comments: “Moulded parts made of renewable raw materials require production machinery with high precision and extended options for parameter setting.

Plant-based-plastics - Graphene-additives

-Oil more likely to touch $130-140 rather than go back to $100

“As long as the Russia-Ukraine war continues to fester and the sanctions remain in place, it is very hard to see Brent going back below $110. The safety valves are all closed,” says Vandana Hari, Founder & CEO, Vanda Insights.

The world is worried about demand and the recession but the crude market is telling you it does not matter. How ironic is it that everything is down but crude and energy prices are going higher? Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

I cannot disagree with you. You are absolutely right there is worry over demand but let me put it this way, there is a great worry on supply. There is also a bit of timing mismatch about supply and I can give you a whole line up of problems starting with Russia and sanctions against Russia, then Libya and the Kashagan fields.

The US output is not really picking up fast enough and the list goes on and on. There is a timing mismatch. The supply problems are very real and the supply worries could get worse before it gets better. That is what is taking up the mind space of market participants right now. Whereas the demand worries are definitely there, a little bit farther down the road, or out of line of sight. The oil market has a very short-term view. The short-term view as of now seems far more bullish with far more supply worries than demand concerns.

What for you is likely to be the normal for crude prices going forward? RBI is pencilling in an average of $105 a barrel. Is that too conservative?

As far as price expectations are concerned, we are going to be in search of a new normal for quite some time – for the rest of 2022 and potentially through 2023 as well. If one you is taking a view of that for next 6 months and 18 months, you have to keep in mind several things. One is, of course, what happens to the Russian invasion in Ukraine, what is the end game there, how does it pan out and then ultimately what happens to western sanctions against Russia?  Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

I think that is a very key part of the equation. As of now, as we are sitting here today, it is impossible to predict what is going to happen next in Ukraine let alone what is going to happen 6 months or 18 months down the line. So that is going to be key.

Plant-based-plastics - Graphene-additives

Plant-based-plastics – Graphene-additives

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