Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


A more efficient process to create polystyrene packaging


Polystyrene foam is widely used in a variety of applications, including building insulation, packaging and drinking cups. These different types of foam are all commercially produced from a single starting material – high-density spherical beads of expandable polystyrene (EPS).

The beads are expanded and moulded by the end product manufacturers using a blowing agent. Currently, pentane is used, but it is an inflammable, volatile organic compound (VOC) and up to half remains in the EPS after processing and is slowly released to the atmosphere during storage and use.

“Concern is growing throughout Europe and the USA about increasing pentane emissions and legislation to limit it is already planned in Switzerland, Austria and Sweden,” says Wolfgang Teubert, Managing Director of the German partner Teubert Maschinenbau GmbH.

EUREKA project E! 2683 VOC FREE EPS met these concerns by producing a VOC free alternative in the world’s first water-blown expandable polystyrene bead. The partners may take the unusual step of commercially launching in the USA first, taking advantage of stricter legislative controls on VOC release. This results in a better market for VOC free products and processes which is estimated at two hundred kilo tonnes per year.

“The new patented process creates a molecular bond encapsulating starch in a shell of polystyrene. The chemically bonded starch absorbs micro-drops of water, which becomes a safer, more environmentally friendly blowing agent inside the beads,” explains Willem van Liemt, EPS R&D team leader at the Dutch lead partner Nova Chemicals and technical project leader for VOC FREE EPS.

The project achieved a considerable reduction in VOC emissions resulting from polystyrene foam, an improvement in productivity for foam moulders and improved safety during production of the foam. “Increasing VOC emission reduction targets will necessitate the installation of pentane ‘capture and destroy’ systems. These will require significant investment and will reduce the problem but will never solve it completely,” says van Liemt.

While Nova Chemicals developed the new expansion process for VOC free EPS, the German partner Teubert GmbH designed and built the new EPS expansion machine.

“A well chosen external partner allowed us to take a completely new concept and convert this into an actual machine within a much shorter time frame than if we had done it in-house,” says van Liemt.

“The EUREKA programme has been vital in facilitating the international collaboration required for this project. It provides a framework for collaboration, and gives the financial support to enable smaller, innovative partners to play a major role in these large projects,” says van Liemt.

Julie Sors | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Etching Microstructures with Lasers
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>