Food Approvals Open up Further Markets and Applications for Polyethylene (PE) Nucleation


Hyperform® HPN-20E nucleating agent from Milliken delivers optical improvements, enhanced moisture barrier, and improved mechanical properties for polyethylene resins, offering expanded functionality in films and packaging. A new applications lab film line underscores Milliken's commitment to film.

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - March 9, 2007 - A recently granted food contact notification (FCN) for Milliken's Hyperform® HPN-20E in polyolefins is opening up new options for customers in the polyethylene (PE) industry. The food contact notification covers Conditions A-H, allowing broad usage across a range of food contact applications. Hyperform HPN-20E is a new nucleating agent which successfully nucleates polyethylene bringing a range of benefits: improved clarity, physical properties, and barrier and seal performance.

"The FCN allows utility of Hyperform HPN-20E in additional applications and adds to our excitement in providing additives that enhance polyolefins and create new solutions for complex challenges," said Martin Horrocks, global market manager, Polyethylene Additives for Milliken Chemical. "We are determined to bring value to the market segments that depend on polyethylene."

Introduced last year, Hyperform HPN-20E nucleating agent works effectively and efficiently in PE, which until Milliken Chemical's introduction of the new nucleating agent, has never utilized nucleation on a commercial scale. Nucleating agents provide a physical molecular-level trigger point around which highly-ordered crystalline structures called spherulites form rapidly.

Target applications for Hyperform HPN-20E nucleating agent include monolayer and coextruded film for food packaging, agricultural applications and overwrap films. Early focus has been in the area of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) resins where optical enhancement is vital for shelf appeal. Traditionally this has been achieved through blending low density PE (LDPE) into LLDPE. Unfortunately, this can result in reduction of tear and impact strength of the resultant film. Nucleating LLDPE with HPN-20E can enhance optics without detriment to tear and impact, offering film producers a new and novel option for packaging film constructions.

In addition, the nucleating agent is showing some improvement in polyethylene film hot-tack performance that can potentially speed up vertical form, fill, and seal lines (VFFS). It also permits potential down-gauging by enhancing stiffness and eliminating much of the reduction in tear and impact performance associated with LDPE blending. This presents potential new ways for cost effective film constructions.

Nucleating polyethylene with Hyperform HPN-20E is also showing exciting reductions in water vapor transmission rates (WVTR), hence enhancing the barrier properties of polyethylene film layers - high density PE (HDPE) and LLDPE - used in a range of different coextruded structures. WVTR reductions on the order of 40 percent (LLDPE) and 20 percent (HDPE) have been observed in trials.

A new, in-house blown film line underscores Milliken Chemical's commitment to PE and film, both of which are relatively new initiatives for the company. The monolayer line employs a 24:1 55mm (2.17 in.) barrier screw and a 4 in. (102mm) die and Saturn Maximizer Plus dual lip air ring. The line is capable of producing polypropylene (PP) and PE films up to a lay flat of 22 in. (559 mm). Housed in Milliken Chemical's applications lab in Spartanburg S.C., the blown film line enables Milliken Chemical to support customers with trials, testing, and standards evaluation. It is designed to help customers take advantage of Milliken Chemical's extensive resources and knowledge base in morphology modification of polymers.

"Polyethylene and polyethylene film are a new area for Milliken," states Horrocks, "but we are learning that nucleation can bring value to this polymer and our short term focus is to understand how the benefits of nucleation of PE can drive value for our customers. Polyethylene is a very difficult material to successfully nucleate and HPN-20E is the most efficient chemistry to achieve this. We want to help the market investigate the types of improvements this technology can deliver. Long term, we want to investigate other areas of PE outside of film where nucleation can create value. A first example of this involves cycle time reductions in blow molding high density polyethylene."

Hyperform HPN-20E is also a nucleating agent for PP and is a strong complement to Milliken Chemical's Hyperform HPN-68L. HPN-20E results in some very unique isotropic shrinkage behavior in PP which is already being used commercially to solve a range of different customer problems.

About Milliken Chemical

Milliken Chemical is a division of privately-held Milliken & Company, founded in 1865. Created in 1957, Milliken Chemical soon outstripped its original charter to produce innovative textile processing chemicals and additives within Milliken & Company. Now a global supplier to a broad range of thermoplastic resin, colorant, industrial specialty and other customers, Milliken Chemical develops, manufactures, and sells additives, colorants, cleaning agents, elastomers, and specialty chemicals. The company is a market leader in additives for plastics, including Millad® 3988 clarifying agent, Hyperform nucleating agents, ClearTint® polymeric colorants and ClearShield® UV absorber. Milliken Chemical rigorously pursues research and development of methods and materials that help customers improve the appearance, performance and productivity of their products and processes. Visit Milliken Chemical on the web at www.millikenchemical.com.

A new, in-house blown film line underscores Milliken Chemical's commitment to polyethylene (PE) and film, both of which are relatively new initiatives for the company. Housed in Milliken Chemical's applications lab in Spartanburg S.C., the blown film line enables Milliken Chemical to support customers with trials, testing, and standards evaluation. It is designed to help customers take advantage of Milliken Chemical's extensive resources and knowledge base in morphology modification of polymers.

For More Information:

Martin Horrocks

Milliken Chemical

Tel: +1 864.503-2200

martin.horrocks@milliken.com

Amy Godfrey

AH&M

Marketing Communications

Tel: +1 413.448-2260, x37

agodfrey@ahminc.com

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