With production beginning in England in mid-October, Shell Chemical Co. introduced on Oct. 30 its new aliphatic polyketone resins to North America. Shell started a 20 million-pound-per-year production line in Carrington, Eng-land, to make Carilon resins, semi-crystalline copolymers de-rived from carbon monoxide and ethylene monomers.
Because of their unique mono-mer composition and broad spectrum of performance properties, Shell has called the resins revolutionary new materials with enormous potential for applications around the world.Shell is targeting the new resins at applications in the automotive, electrical/electronics, consumer appliances, business machinery and industrial markets, and in areas requiring strong resistance to corrosion.
Besides selling the resins and compounds of the resins itself, Shell has licensed two North American compounding companies to make and market injection molding-grade compounds based on the resins.
Shell said it believes its new resins will compete with nylon, acetal, thermoplastic polyester, polycarbonate and polyphen-ylene oxide.
The resins can be used in all classic poly-mer processes, including blow molding, extrusion, in-jection molding and rotational molding, according to Joseph Macha-do, technology manager for Carilon Thermoplastic Polymers. Machado and Ellen McGowan, business manager for Carilon Thermoplastic Polymers, spoke in a telephone interview Oct. 29. McGowan said Lexmark Interna-tional of Lexington, Ky., already is using the resins to make a gear for a laser printer.
Besides strong corrosion resistance, the resins prevent permeation of volatile organic compounds and have strong impact resistance, she said.
``What Carilon polymers offer is not a single unique characteristic, but a combination of properties not found in any existing class of engineering thermoplastic polymers,'' McGowan said.
Other potential applications include automotive fuel line components and, as extruded fibers, tire cord, McGowan said.
Shell has developed a line of base resin grades and flame-retardant, glass-fiber-reinforced, and tribological grades of the polymers, she said. While Shell announced a year ago that its developmental grades of Carilon resins would cost $3.50 per pound, McGowan said the commercial resins will be priced competitively with nylon and acetal.
Shell's resins are made with a palladium-based catalyst developed by Eite Drent, a consultant at Shell's laboratory in Amster-dam and a part-time professor of industrial catalysis at the Univer-sity of Leiden in the Netherlands.
Drent said the catalyst is activated in ways similar to metallocene catalysts, but his catalysts are not poisoned by the presence of olefins or carbon monoxide. Drent said the catalysts apparently can be used to activate a large number of other monomers.
Shell has licensed RTP Co. of Winona, Minn., and LNP Engi-neering Thermoplastics of Exton, Pa., to make and market injection- grade compounds based on Cari-lon resins, McGowan said.She expects that both compounders will develop their own formulas for the resins, besides using Shell formulas. Shell has retained all rights to extrusion grades.
McGowan said the Carrington, facility can be expanded to produce 40 million pounds of resin a year, and Shell considers the potential to build a second facility good.