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New plastics that resemble PVC, without chlorine

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 12 December, 2003  (New Product)
Even non-chemists know at least the abbreviations of those nasty substances: DDT is a highly persistent insecticide, CFCs used as propellants and refrigerants destroy atmospheric ozone, and PVC stands for plastics often regarded with suspicion.
Add PCBs and PCP to this cocktail, and you can't help wondering why industry doesn't simply stop using these substances or replace them with something more harmless. But apart from the fact that it is often difficult to find alternatives with the desired properties, there is an even more fundamental dilemma: Chlorine is produced in large quantities as an inevitable by-product of hydrogen gas and caustic soda via electrolysis of salt. In Germany, a quarter of this chlorine is used to synthesize vinyl chloride, the chemical basis for PVC. But despite advances in methods of recycling these mass-produced plastics, many companies are trying to avoid its use altogether, for they may also contain heavy metals as stabilizers and phthalates as plasticizers, both potential pollutants.

An environmentally friendly, low-cost alternative to PVC and acrylic plastisols has been developed by Professor Slaweyko Marinow: 'The important feature of my invention is that these paste-like precursors can be processed using all established techniques for PVC plastisols.' The chlorine-free ones consist of a similar dispersion of microscopic plastic particles and permitted additives and fillers in a solution of monomers, harmless plasticizers and / or common solvents. They are based on the following comminuted plastics (polyolefins): Polyethylene and -propylene of various densities and their mixed copolymers, which may also contain butadiene. The viscosity and flow behavior of the pastes can be adapted to the needs of the customer within a relatively wide range by varying the mixing ratio of all ingredients. The composition also affects the setting and hardening time, which can range from one minute to several hours.

'We are already negotiating with a number of companies who have shown interest in obtaining a license for the process,' reveals Dr. Pia Schoester, a service agent at the Fraunhofer Patent Center PST. 'The wide spread of potential applications ought to appeal to many branches of industry.' The plastisols can be used in corrosion-resistant coatings for metal parts such as building frameworks and vehicle underbodies, or for containers used by the food industry. Other possible areas of use include textiles and paper. All this and more can be discovered by visitors to the ACHEMA show in Frankfurt, at Stand A 11-B 12 in Hall Forum 0.
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