Even with a bevy of new patents and color concentrates on the market, getting good taste from bottled water can be a sour problem.
The issue has prompted the U.S. arm of Basel, Switzerland-based Ciba Specialty Chemicals Holding Inc. to join a crowded parade of suppliers offering solutions to the problem.
The company has taken its new additive through in-house taste tests, but now must launch industrial evaluations with some customers, said Patricia Patrick, global marketing manager for plastic packaging additives. Patrick, based in Tarrytown, N.Y., spoke Jan. 29 at Nova-Pack Americas 2002 on Amelia Island, Fla.
The company would like to launch the additive soon, but that depends how it is greeted by customers, Patrick said.
``The value of bringing the technology to the market is the question we must answer,'' Patrick said. ``We think there is room for improvements out there beyond what we have [on the market] today.''
Ciba said its new additive scavengers reduce the amount of acid acetaldehyde in a molded PET preform by half, beyond what current additives can do. The additive has no adverse effect on color or clarity, Patrick said.
Other companies have been on the same path, including PET producers Eastman Chemical Co. and KoSa, and additives maker ColorMatrix Corp. In 2001 alone, 14 patents were issued for AA-scavenging additives, Patrick said.
The market could drive technology forward. Even in a down economy, PET water-bottle production continues to grow about 10 percent a year and is especially strong in Europe, Patrick said. Germany is opening up to PET bottles, as are regions with warmer climates, she said.
If growth continues for beer bottles packaged in PET, the market could escalate further, she said. PET beer bottles could face the same taste challenges from AA, she said.
Ciba plans to apply this year for Food and Drug Administration approval to use its additives in beverage bottles. After industrial tests are done, the company will decide whether to release the product soon or develop it further, Patrick said.