I’m probably just getting old, but I always swallow hard when I see discussion of plastics in the popular media. The current issue of Time, for example, has a one page article titled “Freshen Up Your Drink” under the heading of “health”. The article tackles the subject of whether it’s OK to re-use water bottles, and looks at the case for single-use PET, polycarbonate, HDPE and stainless steel. A table with the article states that HDPE is “made from petroleum”. Are people supposed to believe that PET and polycarbonate are not derived from petroleum? Possibly they are made from some magical substance that is totally benign from an environmental and health viewpoint. The article states that “PET degrades with use”, but that there are “no known problems” with HDPE. My goodness, HDPE, which is a lower quality material than PET, does not degrade with use? And wait a minute, weren’t we just told five minutes ago by the green lobby that we want this stuff to degrade?
The article tells Time readers to dispose of PET containers after a single use (or re-use them as flower pots!), re-use HDPE containers because they are safe, and re-use stainless containers because they are as safe as glass. Time indicates that scientists have concerns with BPA leaching from PC even at room temperature. The article cautions readers not to fill stainless containers with hot water, but makes no such admonition for HDPE! The melting point for stainless is around 2600F; HDPE, 430F!
I remember 30 or so years ago how much I hated all of the broken glass litter left from people who smashed beer bottles. Today, I do see some trash of cans or plastic bottles, but at least they aren’t a safety hazard. And now we’re worrying about whether it’s safe to re-use plastic containers? OK, but let’s at least make sure we make some sense from a technical perspective.
Just in time for Earth Day, chemicals leader Bayer MaterialScience reported from the UTECH Europe 2015 polyurethane show on programs and applications using its materials to help reduce energy usage. The company also gave an update on its CO2-based PU as that eco-friendly material comes closer to production.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
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