New Barrier Polymer Offers Biodegradability

DN Staff

April 29, 2009

2 Min Read
New Barrier Polymer Offers Biodegradability

A major Japanese materials producer is opening thedevelopment door for a novel new vinyl-alcohol resin that features high amorphouscontent with the capability to tailor crystallinity.

Nippon Gohsei has established a semi-commercial plant in Japan forannual production of 300 tons of Nichigo G-Polymer. Another 2,000 tons ofcommercial production capacity will also be available this year.

"It's not every day that a new polymer is invented," saysJim Swager, commercial development manager for SoarusLLC, 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 allextrusion processes. One of the more interesting possibilities is the potentialto team Nichigo G-Polymer with polylactic acid. "It would be the first 100-percentbiodegradable film," says Swager. Currently used barrier layers in PLA filmare not biodegradable. The material has a higher barrier than EVOH and has FDAapproval for indirect food contact.

There are several development programs in Asiafor co-extrudable barrier and acrylic emulsion applications for the new polymer. All are confidential. The material absorbswater, even when chilled, very quickly and is targeted as an inner barrierlayer for coextruded or co-injected products. "We did one test that showed thematerial 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 andgood chemical resistance compared to PVOH (polyvinyl alcohol) and EVOH(ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer) resins, Nichigo G-Polymer is said to havesuperior extrusion properties, orientability, shrinkability and transparency.

Because it has oxygen and hydrogen barrier properties, itsuse as a composite with other materials such as metal and inorganic materials couldtake place for household power fuel cell systems, fuel-cell-powered cars andhydrogen gas stations.

It has exceptionally good dispersing and aqueous solutionstabilizing properties, so its use as a sintered binder and coating agent forsilica, aluminazol and other metals is anticipated in the manufacture of flatpanel displays and their component parts.

Nichigo G-Polymer can also be used in combination with otherresins in bicomponent fibers and nonwoven fabrics, filters and polymer alloys.

The U.S.patent for Nichigo G-Polymer has been applied but not yet published.

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