SEATTLE - Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a way to use supersonic steam and shock waves to crack natural gas feedstocks - a process they say can boost yield by 20 percent. Currently, ethylene producers use high-temperature furnaces to crack, or break down, the feedstocks such as ethane and propane into molecular fragments. But with that process, only about 60 percent of the feedstock is converted into new compounds, and just half of those converted materials re-form into desired end products such as ethylene.
After six years of work, the shock wave reactor has been patented. Work is being coordinated at the university in Seattle by Tom Mattick, an associate professor at UW College of Engineering's Aerospace and Energetics Research Program, and professor David Russell.
In experiments this summer, the researchers successfully converted, or cracked, about 80 percent of the ethane feedstock. About 80-90 percent of the converted material turned into ethylene.
Mattick said shock wave reactor technology can be retrofitted easily onto existing plants.
ERIE, PA. - Penn State Erie formally dedicated its 55,000-square-foot Plastics Technology Center on Sept. 20.
The center, which actually opened in 1994, consists of four buildings connected by a two-story atrium.
Local industry played a key role - financially and organizationally - in building the center, which boasts a 7,000-square-foot laboratory.
Penn State President Graham Spanier said the private-sector help was critical.
``At a time when traditional sources of funding for higher education and economic outreach are disappearing, it's heartening to know that the industry leaders seated before you today understand and appreciate the critical role higher education plays in determining Pennsylvania's economic future,'' he said.
LOWELL, MASS. - The Institute for Plastics Innovation in Lowell recently installed a 110-ton injection molding machine from Battenfeld of America Inc. of West Warwick, R.I.
Students at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell will use the CDC Model BA1000/315 machine, with a Unilog 4000 controller, as part of an injection molding test cell, according to Robert Malloy, a professor at the university's Plastics Engineering Department.
Companies pay a $20,000 fee to become part of the institute, giving them access to industrial research. Malloy said the Battenfeld machine will help the institute meet demand for study of thin-wall molding and rapid prototyping.
HOBOKEN, N.J. - The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $150,000 grant to Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken for its Product Lifecycle Management project.
The program does research to reduce pollution in plastics processing.
CORONA DEL MAR, CALIF. -The California Film Extruders and Converters Association has awarded a $5,000 scholarship to Los Angeles-based Maravilla Youth Development and Educational Foundation, which helps young people in Los Angeles.
CFECA members raised the money at their annual golf tournament, which was held in Whittier, Calif.
CFECA is based in Corona Del Mar.