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LNP gears up for new mobility, sustainability era

July 15, 2019

SABIC is continuing to hold a series of technical summits in Asia to mark 70 years of its LNP product line of engineering thermoplastic compounds and copolymers, with the city-state of Singapore being a recent host in June.

“We are dedicated to working with customers to tackle the technical challenges they face across many markets,” said Joshua Chiaw, Global Business Director, LNP, SABIC. One prime example of this is the compounder’s efforts in the circular economy sphere with its LNP ELCRIN iQ products unveiled in May.

SABIC chemically recycles post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) for uses as a feedstock in its LNP ELCRIN iQ portfolio of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounded resins.

The first series of LNP ELCRIN iQ products is a portfolio of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounded resins derived from chemically recycled post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (rPET), mostly single-use bottles. “This is more upcycling than recycling because we are creating materials that have a higher value than the original,” Chiaw says.

“These new iQ compounds have enhanced properties that may be used in more durable, long-life applications. They also offer a smaller cradle-to-gate environmental footprint in comparison to standard PBT resin.”

SABIC is offering LNP ELCRIN iQ in various versions, including glass- and mineral-reinforced grades and non-halogenated FR and UV-resistant formulations. Some of the LNP ELCRIN iQ grades even have the potential to comply with certain U.S. Food & Drug Association (FDA) food contact regulations.

One key to the success of this portfolio, according to Chiaw, is strict control over the supply of the post-consumer raw material. “We cannot source this from just anyone. We need to ensure the final product has the same quality as virgin material and we’ve developed expectations of our suppliers to realize this, including labor practices.”

Turning to mobility, Chiaw sees the inevitable rise of the electric vehicle and autonomous driving, although various hurdles still need to be overcome. “Regulations and safety have to come first,” he emphasizes. “If you are charging batteries faster, then safety is all the more important. And looking at the spate of recent accidents involving aged drivers in Japan, automakers need to implement safety features such as stop assist and brake assist. Only then should we start talking about performance.”

The introduction of 5G also has implications for mobility. “If your autonomous vehicle is relying on a 5G signal relayed from a satellite then you cannot allow any lag time,” says Chiaw.

In fact, if EVs are to make significant inroads society as a whole needs to change and infrastructure and how it is regulated becomes all the more important. “[Given these challenges], I don't see the traditional internal combustion engine vehicle letting go easy but with everyone trying to lessen their dependence on oil, it’s inevitable that we will see a transformation.”

And with newcomers to the car industry unhobbled by the traditional steel stamping assembly line, the EV of the future could potentially double the use of plastic per vehicle. Long fiber compounds such as LNP’s Verton range for components with small, critical dimensions could be a key beneficiary of this trend.

Plastics Today