Resin marketers announce metallocene ventures

The Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI) and BP Chemicals (Cleveland, OH) last month announced an alliance to develop and make available for licensing a combination of BP's Innovene+ gas-phase polyethylene process and Dow's Insite(TM) catalyst technology.

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The combined technology is expected to result in resins with superior processability and impact strength, as well as improved heat seal and optical properties. By early next year you'll see significant commercialization of this technology in packaging films for food and industrial applications," predicts Ed Gambrell, vp for Dow's Insite technology. "These will provide substantial value to the processor without additional capital investment in new machinery." In a recent media conference call, Gambrell admitted that metallocenes "represent a very small part of the packaging business today, but seven to 10 years from now, you're going to see 20 to 30 percent of the packaging market based on metallocene polymers." Also last month, Union Carbide Corp. (Danbury, CT) and Exxon Chemical Co. (Houston, TX) agreed to form a 50:50 joint venture to research, market and license technologies for PE production. The venture company is scheduled to be operational by the end of the year, using UC's Unipol® I and II gas-phase processes and catalyst systems, and Exxon's Exxpol® metallocene catalyst systems and super condensed-mode gas-phase process. The company's initial focus will be related to metallocene-catalyzed linear low-density PE. In the artist's renderings here (provided by Exxon), the pink illustration represents three identically structured polymer molecules emanating from a metallocene catalyst in the center. The polymer built from such molecules will have superb structural uniformity and predictability, so packaging materials made from that polymer will have improved physical properties. In the green rendering, the four polymer molecules emanating from a conventional catalyst show greater variation and unpredictability.

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