Cyclics Corp. is preparing to launch production of a novel type of polybutylene terephthalate that exhibits both thermoplastic and thermoset characteristics.
The Schenectady, N.Y., private firm said it will spend 20 million euros ($19.8 million) to construct the first commercial plant for CBT-brand polyesters based on PBT chemistry. Cyclics chose to build its 100,000-square-foot plant in Brandenburg, Germany, to take advantage of locally made PBT from BASF Scharzheide GmbH, said John Ciovacco, Cyclics' chief executive officer.
Cyclics expects the German operation to have annual capacity of 5.5 million pounds of CBT when it starts production by early 2004.
CBT can be processed like a thermoplastic and offers typical thermoplastic properties such as toughness, high mechanical strength and recyclability. Its low melt viscosity and use of a catalyst, however, also lends it thermoset-type processing characteristics and the potential to use high filler loadings.
Ciovacco said CBT has high levels of PBT oligomers, or small fractions of a PBT polymer backbone. At room temperature CBT is a solid with a high proportion of pairs, trimers, tetramers and bigger oligomers arranged as cyclic molecules. Typical PBT consists of molecules mainly constructed of long chains containing PBT units.
Cyclics' process can convert a large proportion of PBT into small, cyclic fractions that have low melt viscosity. Low viscosity is especially useful in rotational molding, powder coating and many other thermoset processes.
Ciovacco said catalysts are included with CBT as a one-part system. Catalysts are proprietary, but Ciovacco revealed some are based on titanium compounds. Catalysts can be chosen to vary the speed of cross-linking the liquid melt into a hard product. Once cross-linking sets in, there is no need for a cooling cycle for the processing tool. The newly cross-linked part is strong enough to demold without a cooling period.
Cyclics claims that good lab results have enticed 30 development partners to sign agreements with the company. Last spring, for example, Cyclics partnered with Dow to develop automotive composite applications.
Cyclics was formed in May 1999 to acquire a portfolio of plastics technology patents held by General Electric Plastics.
The company's owners include its founders, employees and private investors.
A larger facility is planned after the first operation starts.