SPE honors top researchers at Antec

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University of Akron Abraam Isayev, winner of SPE's International Award.

LAS VEGAS — The winner of the Society of Plastics Engineers’ top honor, the International Award, professor Avraam Isayev, outlined work in ultrasonics to recycle rubber and crosslinked polyethylene film, through a process of decrosslinking, in a presentation April 28 at Antec 2014.

Isayev and other award winners were honored with a banquet before Antec began in Las Vegas. He presented a technical paper outlining his work on ultrasonic processing during an Antec session.

“This ultrasonic recycling can work for any type of rubber — EPDM, tires etc.,” he said.

Isayev is distinguished professor of polymer engineering at the University of Akron, where he also served as interim director of the Institute of Polymer Engineering and Director of the Molding Technology Research and Development Center.

He discovered, developed and patented the ultrasonic extrusion process for the devulcanization of tires, helping solve a major national problem of scrap tires. Among other innovations, he did fundamental studies on high-power ultrasonic-assisted extrusion for in-situ copolymer formation and compatibilization of blends of immiscible polymer in the melt state, and the dispersion of nanofillers to make nanocomposites, using ultrasonically-assisted extrusion processes.

Isayev’s talk was titled Environmental Sustainability Through Polymer Processing. He said the U.S. generates 300 million scrap tires every year. He said most are now burned for fuel, but likened that to burning money. It is far better to devulcanize the rubber, which is a thermoset, and then revulcanize it into new tires, he said.

But he said you need a great amount of energy to break the bonds of vulcanization. The key, he said, is to use the voids between the molecules, and eventually break the bonds.

Isayev recalled how researchers created an ultrasonic reaction extrusion system with a coaxial die, or one with the ultrasonics in the grooved barrel. Eventually, the pioneers developed an industrial sized machine.

They studied variables such as the materials’ residence time in the machine.

Isayev also explained how ultrasonics works on crosslinked PE film. The resulting, decrosslinked material can be injection molded, but you cannot extrude it again, he said.

The International Award is the plastics industry’s most prestigious annual award.

The Newtown, Conn.-based SPE announced other awards at Antec 2014:

Society of Plastics Engineers Baldev Boolani

Baldev Boolani, chairman of Boolani Engineering Corp. in Mumbai, India, won the Business Management Award.

He established then firm in 1949, as a young engineer, to manufacture plastic molding and extrusion machinery, at the dawn of the plastics industry in India. Back then, the main industries were cotton, jute, textiles and railways, according to SPE.

For his pioneering work, Boolani received the Udyog Patra Award (Eminent Businessman Award) from the president of India in 1977.

Boolani is credited with laying the groundwork for the manufacturing of plastic consumer goods and injection molding machines and extruders.

Today, Boolani Engineer is a global company that has produced more than 15,000 plastic processing machines, for corporations and university laboratories.

He is a longtime supporter of the Vivekanand Education Society, or VES, and its College of Pharmacy and College of Law.

University of Massachusetts at Lowell Stephen McCarthy

Stephen McCarthy, a professor of plastics engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, picked up the Fred E. Schwab Education Award, which is sponsored by the SPE’s Detroit Section.

McCarthy is director of UMass Lowell’s Biodegradable Polymer Research Center, as a strong, longtime champion of plastics and biomedical education at the university in Lowell, Mass. He founded the Massachusetts Medical Development Center, which help move ideas and new products from the lab into the marketplace, giving the startups needed expertise. The center has helped more than 100 companies.

McCarthy holds 11 patents and has three patents pending. He has 132 peer-reviewed published papers.

He advises students in the masters and graduates degree programs.

McCarthy has secured more than $8 million in sponsored research grants, $4 million in capital funding and more than $31 million in donations of intellectual property.

He was named University Professor at UMass Lowell in 2012.

Texas Tech University Sindee Simon

Sindee Simon, the P.W. Horn Professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, earned the Research/Engineering Technology Award.

She has a reputation as an outstanding researcher in polymer physics and chemistry, including thermosets, kinetic analysis and polymer/composite characterization.

Simon has used modeling and analysis with a combination of calorimeter, dilatometer and mechanical measurements and analysis to answer fundamental questions about the glass transition stage. Her recent work deals with nanomaterials and nanocomposites.

Simon has published 923 refereed journal papers. She is a fellow of the SPE, the North American Thermal Analysis Society and the American Physical Society