Dow Chemical Co. is aiming initial marketing of its Infuse-brand olefin block copolymer at elastic fibers and films, bottle cap liners and cross-linked foams.
Those markets were identified by Dow elastomers research director Tim Diephouse at Flexpo 2006, held Sept. 20-22 in Galveston.
Midland, Mich.-based Dow will fully commercialize Infuse in 2007 after testing the material with several customers. The new specialty plastic offers improved temperature performance, elastic recovery, compression set and abrasion resistance and is made using Dow's Insite catalyst technology, said Diephouse.
Dow research associate Seema Karande said Infuse is expected to compete with flexible PVC in the automotive, medical, lawn and garden and appliance sectors.
``Flexible PVC is the big gorilla out there,'' she said. ``I won't say we can substitute for all of it, but we'll be much more successful than we've been in the past.
Other plastic and chemical firms such as ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Chisso and Shell Chemical Co. also are working with OBCs, but Dow is the only one moving into the commercial area.
``Olefin block copolymers are one of the breakthrough discoveries to come along in a long time,'' said Pal Arjunan, an analyst with Flexpo host Chemical Market Resources Inc. of Houston. ``It's nice to see from a polymer science point of view.''
Arjunana added that new technology now allows tailored OBCs to be made at ``reasonable cost.''
``We now can produce custom polymers with different monomers of the same family,'' he said.