Chemistry & Life Sciences

For A Greener Tomorrow

Advancing the Potential of Plastic To Protect the Climate and Save Energy

06.10.2010 -

Protecting the climate and saving energy are two sides of the same coin. Since the industrial revolution, energy needs are met by deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels which create manmade carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. As energy consumption grows, the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase. The climate - energy relationship is here to stay. Limiting energy consumption is therefore essential to control global warming.

This challenge has been taken by the plastics industry. Sustainability and energy efficiency are at the heart of the innovation chain of polyolefin producer Borealis, a leading provider of chemical and innovative plastics solutions and one of the world's leading developers and manufacturers of polyethylene and polypropylene.

Polyolefins are among the most energy - hence carbon - efficient materials. On average, the production of 1 kg of high density polyethylene (HDPE) creates 1.6kg of CO2, while production of 1kg of polypropylene (PP) yields 1.7kg of CO2. The reduced resource usage, energy consumption and carbon emission from production to end-use is essential for sustainable development. However, the full potential of polyolefins has yet to be realized.

For Borealis, combining superior material performance with enhanced energy efficiency and carbon performance is intrinsic to its strategic path of value creation through innovation. Compared with a traditional low density polyethylene (LDPE), the company's latest Borstar grades enable reductions of as much as 40% in CO2 emissions during a packaging applications life cycle.
Think emissions - think cars - the lighter the car, the lower the emissions. Polypropylene has established itself as a highly attractive solution for auto interiors and exteriors. At first, the emphasis was more on aesthetics and unit cost savings, but more recently the focus is on weight reduction and fuel efficiency.

Driving Fuel Efficiency

The advanced performance of PP-solutions offers the automotive industry new opportunities to further enhance the weight reduction and fuel efficiency of modern vehicles.

For instance, the life cycle performance comparison of a mineral reinforced PP fender solution versus its steel alternative indicates that, throughout its entire life cycle the use of 1kg of PP saves an estimated 8.3kg of CO2.

More attention is being paid to what PP can do under the bonnet. Recent compound developments to significantly increase high temperature resistance have been successfully launched in the automotive market. Under the bonnet applications not only require a high temperature resistance or thermal stability, but they also require superior chemical resistance to withstand potential contact with gas or other chemicals. The combination of technical property advantages with a lower density of the PP compounds will open new doors to engineer further under the bonnet applications.
The first major commercial application for PP in air intake manifolds (AIMs) took place at Volkswagen. Borealis' XMOD GB306SAF glass fibre reinforced PP compound is helping VW and parts manufacturer Mahle Filter Systems UK achieve performance and environment-friendly benefits - and improved production cost efficiency - for AIMs used on a wide variety of VW car models.

XMOD GB306SAF is a high stiffness 35% glass fibre reinforced PP compound that offers long-term high heat and chemical resistance, vibration resistance combined with exceptional sound damping performance, high fatigue and a broad operating temperature between -40°C and +120°C.
This step change in PP solutions enhances the energy and carbon saving potentials of advanced plastics for the automotive industry.

Energy Savings Through Cycle Time Reductions
Earlier this year, Borealis launched two new-generation BorPure high transparency polypropylene (PP) random copolymers for transparent food containers. These products offer a step change in organoleptics, a 10% reduction in cycle times and energy and a CO2 reduction of over 5% per year for the converter.

Two high melt-flow rate (MFR) grades targeted primarily at household and kitchenware () and one thin wall packaging grade are available (RJ377MO). An added feature is the incorporation of proprietary Borealis Nucleation Technology (BNT). Both grades advance manufacturers' drive for greater cost-efficiency. Their high crystallisation speeds mean that packaging producers can take advantage of significant reduction in cooling time, thus reducing energy consumption by 10%.

Infrastructure - Out With the Old

Borealis is also extremely active in the development of materials and solutions for infrastructure applications with numerous grades of high performance polyethylene and polypropylene for gas and water pipes. The opportunity is seen, not only to bring life-saving utilities to communities around the world, but to do so in a sustainable way.

A recent study by SADE, a French water utility, showed that in the pipe production phase, a 77% carbon emission reduction per metre is possible using PE compared to traditional iron pipes. The study also considered different types of installation: standard installation in open trench and different no-dig technologies enabled by PE technology. These no-dig installation techniques make a further reduction in the carbon footprint of the installation by up to 79%.

Borealis and its joint venture Borouge are striving to continuously improve their own environmental performance and to advance the energy saving and climate protection potential of its innovative, high performance plastic solutions.
Visit Borealis at K2010 to learn more about how we are creating new horizons for our customers and society at large - Hall 06, Stand A43.


Borealis AG

Wagramer Str. 17 -19
1220 Vienna