A new milestone in the history of polymer foams

E-por combines the shock resistance and aesthetic appeal of interpolymers with the cost-effective recycling and ease of processing of the standard material Styropor.

E-por has a very low blowing agent content of less than 6 percent. Rival products based on interpolymers require a blowing agent content of more than 10 percent. This large amount of blowing agent has to be frozen in the raw material, which means that interpolymers have to be transported and stored in a cold chain. Rival products based on polyolefins have not been capable of containing a blowing agent so far. They are pre-foamed during the production process, which means that it is mainly air that is transported from the raw material producer to the packaging manufacturer. This increases the transport costs considerably.

E-por thus saves transport, storage, and energy costs. It can be transported and stored at room temperature. It is foamed by the packaging manufacturer with a small amount of steam.

The material can also be processed on conventional Styropor machines, which is more energy-efficient than processing polyolefins. Ultimately, E-por is the only foam resistant to multiple shocks which can be degased and recycled using Styropor technology: This means that converters do not have to change their machines.

Beyond the converter, E-por offers advantages for the entire value chain right through to the consumer: Appliance manufacturers are provided with a dust-free, flexible packaging material with an appealing look and feel which allows compact packaging with reduced damage and returns, and lower disposal costs. Retailers and consumers can dispose of the reliable transport packaging by the Styropor way, that is cost-efficiently and without additional efforts.

The development of E-por became possible thanks to a new research approach: BASF's researchers no longer regarded foams as a static blend of a polymer and a blowing agent, as is the case with interpolymers, for example. Instead, they developed E-por as a complex formulation of different ingredients which interact both with one another and with the blowing agent pentane.

The researchers managed to transfer the concept of the impact-strength modification of polymeric materials to particle foams. This formulation is produced in a new type of BASF process. BASF's direct customer, the converter, is then able to process the granules using conventional Styropor technology. And this produces a foam with a new foam architecture. BASF has been present in the market for almost a year with pilot quantities of E-por. Several customer projects in all regions are running successfully.

Read more: Plastics 535


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