Covestro expands offerings and capabilities in continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Covestro is expanding offerings and capabilities in continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic (CFRTP) composites in response to market trends and a growing demand from customers, according to Plastemart.

Its Maezio brand of CFRTP composites are based on continuous carbon fibers impregnated with thermoplastics like polycarbonates. A new tape line is now commissioned in its Leverkusen laboratory to develop new products with different fiber and resin combinations. Their manufacture will in turn be scaled and commercialized at the production site in Markt Bibart in South Germany.

"We’re witnessing strong market demand for thinner, lighter, and aesthetically competitive products where thermoplastic composites like Maezio are making a difference," says Lisa Ketelsen, head of the thermoplastic composite business of Covestro. "To meet the needs of a growing range of applications we need a broader base of portfolio with different matrix materials and properties. The new tape line in combination with our mass production lines will allow us to do quick iterations and scaling based on market demand."

One such product under development is thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) -based CFRTP, which boasts excellent chemical resistance properties and superior flexibility in a wide temperature range. There’s a strong demand especially from the footwear and sports equipment industries for such a strong and versatile product. "Thermoplastic composites enable significant increases in production speed for mass production, and their ability to be molded with features and produced to near net shape eliminates the need for many secondary operations," says Dr.-Ing. Christian Wilms, Head of Technology of the thermoplastic composite business of Covestro. "Also, they are inherently recyclable, making them a genuine answer to the growing need for scalable and sustainable material solutions."

At the same time, new hybrid injection molding machines are commissioned in Covestro’s CFRTP locations in Germany and China to build on processing know-how of complex, three-dimensional composite parts in support of application development across industries. A hybrid injection molding machine combines the thermoforming of semi-finished composite parts with in-mold injection molding – a fully automated one-step processing technology which reduces cycle times and improved productivity of mass produced composite parts.

"We’re working closely with our machinery and processing partners such as Krauss Maffei and Engel to offer customers full support in their product development process," says Dr.-Ing. Olaf Zoellner, head of application development Europe at the Polycarbonates business unit at Covestro. "A fully functional and supportive value chain with the know-how for mass production of composite parts is critical to bringing such solutions to the mainstream market."

According to MRC's DataScope report, Covestro, part of the Bayer Group, has significantly increased its shipments of PC granules into Russia this year. Thus, 8,600 tonnes of this producer"s material were imported to the Russian market in the first three quarters of 2019, compared to 3,700 tonnes in January-September 2018, up by 2 times year on year. The share of Covestro deliveries reached in January-September 2019 61% of the total imports from non-CIS countries versus 50% a year earlier.

Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) is an independent subgroup within Bayer. It was created as part of the restructuring of Bayer AG from the former business group Bayer Polymers, with certain of its activities being spun off to Lanxess AG. Covestro manufactures and develops materials such as coatings, adhesives and sealants, polycarbonates (CDs, DVDs), polyurethanes (automotive seating, insulation for refrigerating appliances) etc.

Exports of injection moulding PET chips from Belarus up 23% in ten months

MOSCOW (MRC) - Export deliveries of injection moulding PET chips from Belarus in January-October increased by 23% compared to the same period last year and amounted to 13,500 tonnes against 11,000 tonnes year on year, according to MRC DataScope.
At the same time, October export of injection moulded PET decreased almost twofold compared with October last year: from 2,500 tonnes to 1,400 tonnes. In September of this year, material from the country was exported in the amount of 1,100 tonnes.

Deliveries to Russia amounted to 42% (5,700 tonnes) in January-October from the total exports against a share of 72% (8,000 tonnes) in the same period last year. The share of exports to Russia from Belarus in October reached 31% (440 tonnes), in September it amounted to 49% (560 tonnes).

Mattel aims for 100 per cent recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic by 2030

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toy maker Mattel Inc. has announced the goal of using only recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastics materials in its products and packaging by 2030, said Canplastics.

In a Dec. 18 statement, the El Segundo, Calif.-based company said it will start by debuting an environmentally sustainable version of its famous Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack baby toy by June 2020.

By the end of the year, all Rock-a-Stack toys worldwide will be made from sugarcane-based polyethylene and packaged in 100 per cent recycled or sustainably sourced materials, the statement said. The Rock-a-Stack toys were launched by Fisher-Price in 1960 to introduce babies to relative size and stacking.

This new target expands on Mattel’s "Environmental Sustainable Sourcing Principles", which were announced in 2011. Mattel now sources 93 per cent of the paper and wood fibre used in its packaging and products from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) content, surpassing its 2018 goal of 90 per cent. In addition, the company has adopted the How2Recycle label, a standardized labeling system that clearly communicates recycling instructions to the public.

And earlier this year, Mattel established an Environmental Sustainability Council comprised of a cross-functional team of leaders dedicated to advancing the firm’s sustainability efforts in several areas, including materials innovation.

"Environmental sustainability is a corporate priority at Mattel and creating sustainable products and packaging is an important part of our commitment to the planet,” said Ynon Kreiz, Mattel’s chairman and CEO. “Our dedicated cross-functional team made sustainability a key priority throughout the product and packaging design and production process. Today, we are delivering on that priority by announcing our first product made from sustainable materials and we look forward to expanding our efforts to all Mattel brands."

As MRC informed earlier, DSM is pledging to offer a full alternative range of engineering plastics based on bio- and/or recycled materials by 2030. The producer will offer a full portfolio of alternatives with at least 25% of the weight of the products made of recycled and/or bio-based material in line with consumer and legislative demands.

Alfa Laval wins refinery order

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Alfa Laval - a world leader in heat transfer, centrifugal separation and fluid handling - has won an order for air cooled heat exchangers, to be installed in a refinery in the Middle East, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The order has a value of approximately SEK 60 million and is booked in the Welded Heat Exchangers unit of the Energy Division. Deliveries are scheduled for 2020.

The order comprises Alfa Laval OLMI heat exchangers which will be used for cooling duties in the distillation unit of the refinery.

"This is the third large order in short time for our durable OLMI heat exchangers. These orders all prove that our heat exchangers meet the high demands from customers in the refinery industry," says Susanne Pahlen Aklundh, President of the Energy Division.

As MRC wrote before, in 2017, Alfa Laval won an order to supply compact heat exchangers to a refinery in China. The order has a value of approximately USD10.6 MM. It was booked late June in the Gasketed Plate Heat Exchangers unit of the Energy Division, with deliveries scheduled for 2018.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,724,670 tonnes in the first ten months of 2019, up by 7% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market in January-October 2019 totalled 1,066,520 tonnes, up by 7% year on year. Supply of block copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymer) and homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP) increased, demand for statistical copolymers (PP random copolymer) decreased.

US specialty chemical markets continue 4th quarter on mixed note, ACC says

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that fourth quarter U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes continue on a mixed note, with a 0.3 percent decline in November following a 0.1 percent gain in October, said Chemengonline.

All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments ACC monitors, eight expanded in November, off from 14 in October. Eighteen markets declined in November and two were flat, ACC says. During November, large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred only in electronic chemicals. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 32 percent, off from 55 percent in October.

During November, the overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 0.4 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons have eased after the third quarter 2018. The index stood at 112.4 percent of its average 2012 levels in October. This is equivalent to 7.65 billion pounds (3.47 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains in 10 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared with last year, volumes were down in 17 segments and flat in one segment. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 38 percent, a worsening comparison.

The unadjusted data before the three-month moving average, however, actually rose 0.5 percent during November and follows a 0.5 percent decline in October. Performance chemistry reflects trends in manufacturing and activity is off from fourth quarter 2018 levels.

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobiles, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.

As MRC informed earlier, Russia's output of chemical products dropped by 3.2% in November 2019 month on month.
However, production of basic chemicals increased by 3.6% in the first eleven months of 2019, according to Rosstat's data. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, the largest increase in production volumes on an annualized basis accounted for mineral fertilizers and polymers in primary form. Last month, 255,000 tonnes of ethylene were produced versus 210,000 tonnes in October; by November, Russian producers had completed all their scheduled works. Thus, 2,721,000 tonnes of this olefin were produced in January-November 2019, up by 0.3% year on year.