CHICAGO - Amoco Chemical Co. plans to reach commercial production levels of naphthalene dicarcoxylate and isophthalic acid at its Decatur, Ala., plant in November. Paul Schiller, fine acids marketing and sales manager for Chicago-based Amoco, said the firm has done line testing and limited production at the plant for several weeks, but declined to say how much NDC will be produced in the commercial ramp-up.
NDC is the crucial ingredient in the production of polyethylene naphthalate, the resin touted as the next advancement in polyester packaging. Lack of the chemical has been the prime reason for the delay in PEN development.
At Future-Pak '95, a packaging conference in Chicago Sept. 12-14, Edward Paschke, research associate for Amoco Chemicals Intermediates Business Group in Naperville, Ill., told conferees that modification of traditional PET with NDC and isophthalic acid units enhances the barrier qualities of polyester. He added that PET/PEN blends are being developed for packaging.
``Our research shows that amorphous polyesters can be melt blended with PET to give transparent, tough films with good thermal and oxygen barrier performance,'' he said. ``The blends can also be used in rigid containers with improved ultraviolet- and chemical-resistant qualities, and are able to be hot filled.''
However, speaking at the conference after Paschke, consultant Ashok Adur told the audience that current optimistic price projections for PEN resins are not realistic. Adur is president of Everest International, a Hackettstown, N.J., technical, marketing and management consulting firm specializing in plastics, packaging and polymers. He indicated it will be some timebefore PEN resins for packaging are produced on a world-class commercial basis.
``One question unfailingly asked of the market analyses is, `How big is the market?' In our opinion, while there might be a potential for these polyesters to both replace some of the current heat-setting [resins] and extend heat-setting [resins] to higher fill temperatures, we found the available data too preliminary to make a firm conclusion regarding future markets,'' Adur said.
He noted that Shell Chemical Co. already has commercializedtwo PEN rigid packaging resins and has capacity of about 200 million pounds per year.
Adur's comments came as part of his update for attendees on developments and applications in PET, which also made mention of a number of other developments.
He said research into alloying PET with liquid crystal polymers had shown the alloys to have better mechanical properties, and to process similarly to regular PET. He said PET alloys using only 10 percent LCPs had increased the oxygen barrier properties of PET twofold.
Other PET advances he high-lighted included:
A new series of ``no-paint PETs'' modified with additives to allow for matte finishes and richer colors.
The introduction of polytri-methylene terephthalate by Shell, which combines the properties of polyester and nylon.
A new two-step injection stretch blow molding process introduced by Coca-Cola bottle makers in Switzerland, which features a three-layer bottle construction incorporating post-consumer PET in the core layer.
An increased market share for PET bottles for mineral water packaging in France.