ExxonMobil Chemical Co. is finding an abundance of new homes for its Vistamaxx and Santoprene product lines.
Vistamaxx an ethylene elastomer is making inroads into markets for packaging, construction and compounding, market developer Chuck Siskovich said during an Aug. 7 presentation to customers in Fairlawn.
Attributes that Siskovich credits to Vistamaxx include flexibility, clarity, impact strength, no stress whitening and the ability to handle high filler loadings.
We're seeing a lot of cases where Vistamaxx is used as a drop-in modifier to improve performance and add value, he said.
Siskovich cited four recent packaging applications where Vistamaxx was used in conjunction with random copolymer polypropylene. In each example, Vistamaxx was dry blended with PP at an injection molding machine. Vistamaxx was used:
* As a replacement for polycarbonate in a box cover. Between 5 percent and 15 percent Vistamaxx was used.
* In a clear plastic tote, where Vistamaxx was used in lower concentration than styrenic block copolymers and reduced overall material costs. Vistamaxx also reduced breakage during shipment for the product.
* In a food container with living hinges, Vistamaxx allowed random copolymer PP to be used when homopolymer PP was found lacking in appearance and sealing performance.
* In a DVD case, straight random copolymer PP didn't have adequate impact strength or flexibility and failed in a drop test. Using 10-30 percent Vistamaxx solved the problem.
Vistamaxx also has been used recently in masterbatch compounding, as a carrier for pigment or filler. When used at 20-30 percent, Siskovich said, Vistamaxx offers good dispersing and improved impact strength, as well as lower scrap rates and finished costs. The material is used alone or with PP or polyethylene in single- or twin-screw machinery.
The construction market also has been a boon for Vistamaxx. Siskovich cited three new applications:
* Roofing underlayment, where Vistamaxx is blended with PP as a coating for sheet. The material provides increased friction, making roofing less slippery and easier and safer to install.
* In thermoplastic olefin single-ply roof membrane, Vistamaxx is used as a modifier to increase flexibility and provide a wider temperature window. Using 5-20 percent Vistamaxx also increased the product's seam strength by 30 percent.
* In sound-deadening applications, Vistamaxx has been used as a primary resin with filler loading. The material can have 70 percent calcium carbonate loading and remain functional. In this application, Vistamaxx has proved to be good for acoustic installation, cost effective and easy to install, he said.
Santoprene-brand thermoplastic vulcanizates have been benefiting from an increased consumer focus on solar and wind power, according to Jeff Smith, a market developer with Houston-based ExxonMobil Chemical.
The number of solar or photovoltaic systems installed in U.S. homes increased from fewer than 6,000 in 2003 to more than 18,000 in 2008, Smith said.
As a result, ExxonMobil has developed two new grades specifically for solar markets. The new grades are suitable for long-term outdoor exposure. They're also flame-retardant, have good sealing performance and are excellent insulators, according to Smith.
Other solar market applications for Santoprene include flat-panel weather seals and overmolded photovoltaic splice connectors. In wind turbines, Santoprene has opportunities in molded electrical and sealing components.
These [Santoprene] applications have been around in other industries, Smith said. They apply to these new applications pretty easily.
Vistamaxx has drawn recent interest in markets for recycled polymers. Customers were looking for a way to make recycled PE and PP from products such as soda labels and off-spec diapers more usable.
That's where Vistamaxx came in, he said.
Customers wanted a recycled polyolefin pellet with enhanced performance, Smith said. Vistamaxx was able to give the recycled material impact modification, enhanced mixing and easier processing.
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