PT Blog

Austria’s Borealis (U.S. office in Port Murray, N.J.), is expected to be the first polyolefins producer to scale up a revolutionary heat recovery technology via a collaborative effort with the developer of the technology, Belgium start-up company Qpinch. The partners have agreed to scale-up the technology, which was patented in cooperation with Ghent University (Prof. Christian Stevens), to a full commercial level at Borealis’ LDPE plant in Antwerp—Europe’s largest petrochemical cluster.

The Qpinch technology mimics natural processes that store and release energy in living cells – a cycle known as ATP/ADP (where ATP refers to adenosine triphosphate and ADP to adenosine diphosphate). The technology provides a heat lift for industrial waste heat by raising the temperature of waste heat by means of a chemical process. In contrast to conventional heat pumps, this closed-loop process minimizes operational costs as well as electricity use. The technology is scalable from one to 50 megawatts (MW) and can thus process massive levels of industrial waste heat.

Borealis open-innovation collaboration with Qpinch on a full-scale commercial unit is an important step forward in the company’s journey to reduce CO2 emissions and make its operations more energy efficient and sustainable. Around 2200 tonnes (4.4 million lb) of CO2/year will be saved, which is the equivalent of 1500 small family cars per year. With operations scheduled to begin in the second half of 2019, the heat recovery unit will be the first ever application of this new technology at commercial scale in a polyolefins plant. The Flemish Government enabled the realization of the project with ecology funding support.

Said Borealis sr. v.p. innovation & technology Maurits van Tol: “We are proud to be the first polyolefins producer to scale up this revolutionary technology, which will help the Borealis Group deliver on its commitment to enhance sustainability, specifically in our focus areas of energy & climate. We believe that this technology has significant potential for our industry and will ultimately benefit our customers by offering them the same products at a lower carbon footprint.”

The Qpinch technology is applicable in diverse industrial processes with a main focus on basic petrochemicals: olefins, aromatics and polymers and refining technology. Said Wouter Ducheyne, Qpinch co-founder and CTO, “We see this first commercial-scale unit not only as a milestone for Qpinch, but as a beacon for the entire petrochemicals industry. Our heat transforming technology could in turn transform the entire industry by reducing CO2 emissions at levels previously unseen. Thanks to our collaboration with Borealis as a leading-edge customer, we can scale up our technology. This successful open innovation model between a start-up and an established company will move us to the next organizational stage, enabling to further develop the business worldwide.”

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A 100% post-industrial nylon 66 sourced from auto airbags launched two years ago by Solvay Engineering Thermoplastics has been adopted by global leading OEM in cleaning technology Karcher (U.S. office in Denver, Colorado) in step with fostering the company’s sustainability goals.  

As previously reported, Technyl 4Earth is based on patented technology which can separate the nylon from the airbag’s silicone, and reportedly boasts properties equivalent to virgin nylon 66.  Strongly committed to increasing the use of recycled materials in its well-known products, Karcher opted to use Technyl 4earth for molding spray lances for its high-pressure cleaners. The company is one of the first major international OEMs to evaluate and embrace the Solvay technology.

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These new rules, released in 2016 by the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board, take effect for public companies this December, and for private companies the following December.

The new regulations require that a portion of operating leases appear on every business balance sheet. Initially, some observers thought the new accounting rules might threaten revenue or profitability. In reality, the final rules impose less stringency than anticipated, and the benefits of leasing remain strong, including for industrial and manufacturing businesses, which account for 5% of equipment financing new business volume in the United States, according to the 2018 Survey of Equipment Finance Activity.

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Within the last year, I have blogged about the ThermXex technology from Belgium’s EconCore and its extended capabilities to produce continuous honeycombs from several high-performance thermoplastics, as well as the emergence of several commercial applications in both packaging and transportation.

Among those in industrial packaging, is Japan’s Gifu Plastics, which has developed a variety of sleeve boxes to meet specific customer needs, including boxes with four-side opening and closing, sleeve boxes with transparent view section integrated into the packaging, and boxes with aluminum frames for exceptionally heavy goods. EconCore recently shared some data comparing its honeycomb-based sleeve packs to alternative solutions, which show the former outperforming the latter.

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Forecasts pointed to 2018 being “the big year” for the U.S. automotive tool and die industry, but the failure of multiple new vehicles to launch and the uncertainty and cost pressures fueled by the ongoing trade conflict slowed the sector significantly and could impact it going forward.

Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of industry consultancy Harbour Results Inc., Southfield, Mich., laid out the current situation in the North American automotive tooling market (injection molding tooling and metal stamping dies) in a recent webinar. Initial forecasts for 2018 pegged the estimated source year tooling spend at $11.7 billion—projected growth over 2017’s banner mark of $10.3 billion.

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