A major Japanese materials producer is opening the
development door for a novel new vinyl-alcohol resin that features high amorphous
content with the capability to tailor crystallinity.
Nippon Gohsei has established a semi-commercial plant in Japan for
annual production of 300 tons of Nichigo G-Polymer. Another 2,000 tons of
commercial production capacity will also be available this year.
"It's not every day that a new polymer is invented," says
Jim Swager, commercial development manager for Soarus
LLC, the U.S.
sales arm for the material. Key targets will be high-strength, flexible,
antistatic and hydrophilic functional products.
One major opportunity area is packaging, including all
extrusion processes. One of the more interesting possibilities is the potential
to team Nichigo G-Polymer with polylactic acid. "It would be the first 100-percent
biodegradable film," says Swager. Currently used barrier layers in PLA film
are not biodegradable. The material has a higher barrier than EVOH and has FDA
approval for indirect food contact.
There are several development programs in Asia
for co-extrudable barrier and acrylic emulsion applications for the new polymer. All are confidential. The material absorbs
water, even when chilled, very quickly and is targeted as an inner barrier
layer for coextruded or co-injected products. "We did one test that showed the
material absorbed water in just three seconds," says Swager.
Ballpark price for an extrusion grade would be about $7/lb,
about two to three times higher than competitive materials.
In addition to having excellent gas barrier properties and
good chemical resistance compared to PVOH (polyvinyl alcohol) and EVOH
(ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer) resins, Nichigo G-Polymer is said to have
superior extrusion properties, orientability, shrinkability and transparency.
Because it has oxygen and hydrogen barrier properties, its
use as a composite with other materials such as metal and inorganic materials could
take place for household power fuel cell systems, fuel-cell-powered cars and
hydrogen gas stations.
It has exceptionally good dispersing and aqueous solution
stabilizing properties, so its use as a sintered binder and coating agent for
silica, aluminazol and other metals is anticipated in the manufacture of flat
panel displays and their component parts.
Nichigo G-Polymer can also be used in combination with other
resins in bicomponent fibers and nonwoven fabrics, filters and polymer alloys.
patent for Nichigo G-Polymer has been applied but not yet published.