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Posted: January 12, 2010

Exemplary Bioplastics Leader Relies on Malvern Systems to Optimize Production

(Nanowerk News) NatureWorks LLC, (Minnesota, US) a global leader in the bioplastics industry, is using a variety of material characterization tools from Malvern Instruments to accelerate product development and achieve market leading quality standards. NatureWorks is the world’s leading supplier, under the trade name Ingeo™, of polylactic acid, a high performance polymer with a carbon footprint significantly lower than conventional petroleum-based alternatives. Data generated using the Viscotek TDAmax, Malvern’s advanced triple detector gel permeation chromatography (GPC) system, and the Rosand RH-7, a floorstanding capillary rheometer, enable the company to tailor the polymer to meet the exacting demands of the polymer processing community. In addition, a Viscotek dilute solution viscosity system provides sensitive quality control.
Ingeo is used commercially in the production of extruded and thermoformed containers, fibers and non-wovens, films, and extrusion and emulsion coatings. In many cases it is processed - extruded, blown and injection molded - using conventional equipment with only minor modification. While this simplifies the displacement of traditional polymers in established markets it demands tight control of polymer properties.
Ingeo Biopolymer by NatureWorks
Ingeo™ Biopolymer by NatureWorks
“Both the Rosand and TDAmax have specific features that are of significant value to us,” comments Jed Randall, research scientist at NatureWorks. “We use the Rosand (our second) to assess the effect of additives and molecular structure on extrusion properties such as die swell, melt fracture and shear thinning behaviour. The melt haul-off device is especially useful as it gives a direct measure of melt strength, a key variable for fiber production and melt processing. With the TDAmax we measure absolute molecular weight and the degree of branching in the polymer, an important control parameter.”
The Viscotek TDAmax has an integrated triple detector array that includes a revolutionary low angle light scattering (LALS) detector and a four-capillary differential viscometer. It measures absolute molecular weight, and intrinsic viscosity data, which together quantify branching and molecular size. The Rosand RH7 is a twin-bore floor standing capillary rheometer with unsurpassed performance in terms of speed control, accuracy and dynamic operating range. The haul-off device is an attachment to the rheometer that is used to measure the melt strength and to simulate fiber drawing and blow molding processes.
About NatureWorks LLC
NatureWorks LLC is a company dedicated to meeting the world’s needs today without compromising the earth’s ability to meet the needs of tomorrow. NatureWorks LLC is the first company to offer a family of commercially available low carbon footprint biopolymers derived from 100 percent annually renewable resources with performance and economics that compete with oil-based plastics and fibers. http://www.natureworksllc.com/
About Malvern Instruments
Malvern Instruments provides a range of complementary materials characterization tools that deliver inter-related measurements reflecting the complexities of particulates and disperse systems, nanomaterials and macromolecules. Analytical instruments from Malvern are used in the characterization of a wide variety of materials, from industrial bulk powders to nanomaterials and delicate macromolecules. A broad portfolio of innovative technologies is combined with intelligent, user-friendly software. These systems deliver industrially relevant data enabling our customers to make the connection between micro (such as particle size) and macro (bulk) material properties (rheology) and chemical composition (chemical imaging).
Particle size, particle shape, zeta potential, molecular weight, chemical composition and rheological properties measurements are now joined by advanced chromatography solutions (GPC/SEC), extending Malvern’s technologies for protein molecular weight, size and aggregation measurements, and synthetic polymer molecular weight and distribution. The company’s laboratory, at-line, on-line and in-line solutions are proven in sectors as diverse as cement production and pharmaceutical drug discovery.
Headquartered in Malvern, UK, Malvern Instruments has subsidiary organizations in all major European markets, North America, China, Korea and Japan, a joint venture in India, a global distributor network and applications laboratories around the world.
Source: Malvern Instruments (press release)
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