Orlando, Fla. — The nose knows. But not always, thanks to Struktol Co. of America.
The Stow, Ohio-based maker of additives, at one point, only focused on creating materials that would improve the processability of compounds.
But in recent years, the company has expanded its portfolio to include additives aimed at controlling both odors and volatile organic compounds. It's an important market as compounds become more advanced.
"Odor and volatility is our entry point into the functionality side of plastics," said Michael Fulmer, product manager for plastic additives for Struktol during NPE2018 in Orlando.
Struktol started addressing the odor issue about four years ago with its initial odor-masking product. But, he said, the company soon realized it needed more tools in its arsenal to tackle the issue.
"We started working with the customers to address some very specific issues related to their compounds," he said. "That's one of the problems with odor and volatile control; those problems tend to be very specific."
Different compounds can contain multiple ingredients, each working independently or in conjunction to create unique challenges, Fulmer explained.
Struktol has developed additives to address very specific odor issues for specific customers as well as more generalized solutions that can be used for multiple applications.
The company's lineup includes additives to mask, neutralize and absorb odors.
"All of our products will be one of those three or a blend of two or three of them depending on what the customer needs," he said.
The odoriferous offending molecules are still present, but perception of the smell is altered by Struktol additives, Fulmer said.
The company is introducing two new additives, RP 53, which is a blend of odor-neutralizing chemistries, and RP 59, a blend of neutralizing chemistries and VOC absorbers, at NPE2018.
The company's additives, Fulmer explained, can be introduced through either a pellet or powder and can be used on virgin and recycled resin.
"What that's designed to do is change the perception of odors that are reaching the customer or the customer's senses," he said.
"You can say yes, you are changing them. But you are not really changing them chemically. ... Let's say the odor is a sulfur molecule that's causing the odor. Everybody knows sulfur smells bad; it smells like rotten eggs. So that sulfur molecule can still be there, but if something is attached to it when it reaches your nose and reaches your sensory receptors, you can change the way that odor is perceived," he said.
Maybe the smell is not as intense, or maybe it is different, depending on the particulars.
"You can modify the way your senses perceive these chemistries," Fulmer said.
Struktol has anywhere from 75 to 100 projects to develop new products going at any one particular time, and the company's research and development efforts typically result in about five to 10 new product launches each year, he said.
"We tend to develop products that can cover a wide variety of polymers [and] can cover a wide variety of process or functional issues," Fulmer said. Additives for more specific odor problems represent a smaller portion of sales.
While the company's formulations are proprietary, Fulmer did indicate they are "very environmentally friendly."
"It is a chemistry that might be used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics and other types of products, but very unique," he said.