Plastics News staff reporter Frank Esposito filed the following briefs from Metcon 99, held June 9-10 in Houston.
Phillips agent has metallocene PE plan
Phillips Petroleum Co. expects to have one of the licensees of its loop-slurry polyethylene production process making metallocene PE using Phillips catalysts by mid-2000.
Officials with Bartlesville, Okla.-based Phillips declined to identify the licensee or the location of the new plant, but said the simple swing from metallocene linear low density PE back to standard high density PE in the loop-slurry process is a major selling point.
``Under the worst conditions, you can switch between high density and metallocene linear low in 10 hours,'' said Phillips senior licensing specialist Michael Smith. ``That's a very nice advantage when compared to switching gasphase PE production, which could take a day or longer.''
Phillips has run two-dozen successful production campaigns that have switched from HDPE to metallocene LLDPE since the firm began commercial metallocene production in 1997. Phillips added that half of the 1 billion pounds of PE production the firm will open in Qatar in 2002 is designated for metallocene-based materials.
Dow acclaims uses for Index materials
A Dow Chemical Co. official said he is surprised by how often its newly commercialized Index-brand ethylene styrene interpolymers are being used to modify other materials.
``[Index] is being used in blends more than we thought it would be,'' said Kurt Swogger, vice president of polyolefins research and development for Midland, Mich.-based Dow.
``When you put it in with other polymers, it changes properties very substantially.''
Index S materials can add rigidity and strength, while the E series can add flexibility. Initially, Dow expects Index to see commercial success in toys, asphalt modification and foams. Longer term, the company sees potential in wire and cable markets, as well as in foams.
The material also has been able to hold high amounts of additives, including 85 percent fillers and more than 50 percent oils, the company said.
Dow produces Index at a 1 million-pound-per-year pilot plant in Freeport, Texas, but plans to have a 300 million-pound commercial plant open by 2001.
``[Index] is going to be a 5 billion-pound market opportunity for us in the next 10-15 years,'' Swogger said.