If recent research at the University of Rochester in New York is as good as advertised, metallocene resin production could be as easy as BEZD.
That's BEZD as in bis (ethoxyboratabenzene) zirconium dichloride, a modified metallocene catalyst capable of producing alpha olefins at pressures and temperatures much lower than those required by standard metallocene catalysts.
Standard metallocenes using aluminum or nickel catalysts require temperatures of 400§-500§ F and pressures of 100-200 atmospheres. BEZD can produce equal results at one atmosphere of pressure and temperatures only slightly higher than room temperature, according to UR scientists.
The alpha olefins produced by BEZD also are shorter and more easily modified than the long ethylene polymers produced by traditional metallocenes, scientists said.
BEZD research at the university was led by Guillermo Bazan, an associate chemistry professor who was the primary author of a recent BEZD article published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Bazan was assisted by graduate students Jonathan Rogers and Caroline Sperry.
``By tweaking the existing metallocene material, we can go from polymers to nonselective materials to very selective alpha olefins,'' Bazan said in an Oct. 21 telephone interview from Rochester. ``From an intellectual standpoint, that's an important thing.''
The new catalyst can be used in producing metallocene-based polyethylenes and polypropylenes, materials that offer superior qualities compared with standard resins, but that have been slowed commercially by higher costs and processing difficulties.
Bazan said the process already has attracted interest from several major petrochemical companies. Researchers now will work to reduce the costs of the process to make it practical for large-scale applications.
``If a company is interested in building reactors without having to go under harsh conditions in temperatures and atmospheres, this process might be a commercial and financial benefit,'' Bazan said.
BEZD also could find uses as a precursor for detergents, synthetic lubricants and octane enhancers.
Rick Kemp, a senior research scientist with Union Carbide Corp., described UR's BEZD research as ``a spectacularly interesting finding.''
``The new catalyst appears to yield products that are virtually 100 percent pure, a trait that's increasingly desirable in industry,'' Kemp said in a statement.