NOVATEC Signs Agreement to Become Sole US Builder of New System that Rapidly Crystallizes and Dries PET in One Step


BALTIMORE, MD, U.S.A., January 22, 2007: With acquisition of a license from European patent holders, NOVATEC, Inc. has begun the first U.S. production of a completely new type of dryer/crystallizer that simplifies the processing of PET resin and regrind and requires dramatically less energy, time, and plant space than conventional systems, the company announced today.

NOVATEC is the only U.S. company authorized to build and market the crystallizer/dryer, called the Infrared Rotary Drum (IRD) dryer. The licensing agreement is with Stricker IRD Patent GbR in Germany and UPM Holdings Ltd. in the UK. NOVATEC is building the IRD systems at its facility in Baltimore.

At the company's new Drying Technology Center in Baltimore, NOVATEC has carried out test runs of PET regrind from two U.S. packaging companies, in both cases demonstrating that the IRD system uses far less energy than a comparable standard system (see table).

"The IRD dryer provides by far the fastest, simplest, least energy-intensive method for manufacturers of PET film and sheet to prepare resin and regrind for processing," said Conrad M. Bessemer, NOVATEC president and CEO. "The drying process takes only minutes instead of the hours needed in conventional equipment, and it uses up to 65% less energy than desiccant systems. In high-volume applications like 'clamshell' containers and other products that are heavily dependent on reclaimed material, this new technology eliminates need for large insulated drying hoppers and separate crystallizers that often require large ceiling clearances."

The innovative technology was developed by Stricker IRD Patent GbR. "The IRD dryer has been commercially proven by PET processors around the world using more than 50 systems built by our licensees in Europe and Japan," said Urban Stricker, inventor of the technology. "Now NOVATEC will draw on its expertise as the most diversified supplier of dryers to build these high-efficiency systems for U.S. processors."

Keys to Efficiency of IRD Dryer: Infrared Heat and Continuous Pellet Turnover

The central component of the IRD dryer is a large, horizontal, stainless steel rotating cylinder or drum on whose inside wall is a helical arrangement of flights that transport PET through the length of the drum. The resin is tumbled as it moves through the drum, so that all surfaces are exposed to radiation from a central bank of infrared heaters around which the drum rotates. As radiant energy, infrared heats only the resin, not the surrounding air, and causes the heating to occur from the core of the pellet to the outside. The moisture thus driven from the pellets is carried away by a stream of ambient air.

The investment cost for an IRD dryer is roughly equivalent to that of a conventional dryer and separate crystallizer, according to Bessemer, but he cited several big advantages over the conventional equipment:

o Substantial energy savings. The energy consumed by the new IRD system for drying PET varies with the moisture level of the incoming material and other factors, but typically the dryer consumes around 0.1 kW per kilogram of material per hour, as against more than double that rate for most conventional crystallizers and dryers.

o Greater productivity and versatility. While the drying time for PET in a desiccant system is about five or six hours, the new IRD dryer requires only eight to 13 minutes (the time in which PET travels the length of the drum) to reduce moisture content. This means that processors can begin producing saleable goods that much sooner after startups or extruder stoppages. And since the IRD dryer employs a continuous process that does not require large hopper-loads of material to keep up with the production line, color and job changes are simpler and less time-consuming.

o Simpler equipment system. While conventional desiccant systems require a separate crystallizer and a large dryer and hopper, all that is needed with the IRD dryer is a relatively low-capacity dryer connected to a buffer hopper holding less than an hour's worth of extrusion or molding machine throughput.

o Less maintenance. The NOVATEC IRD system does away with desiccant beds, regeneration heaters, process heaters, and air flow valves. A relatively small motor turns the drum. Replacements for the infrared heaters are readily available and inexpensive.

NOVATEC offers the system in five models, with nominal throughputs ranging from 200 to 4,000 pounds (90-1,820 kg) per hour.

NOVATEC, INC. is a leading supplier of resin drying, blending, and pneumatic conveying systems to plastics processors. The ISO 9001-certified company specializes in custom-engineered material handling systems that meet specific process and production requirements. Its range of dryers is the broadest in the industry, including desiccant, hot air, compressed air, and infrared systems, as well as the patented NovaDrier(TM) compressed air / membrane dryer and the NovaVac II(TM) vacuum dryer. NOVATEC, Inc. is headquartered at 222 East Thomas Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21225 U.S.A. Tel: 410-789-4811. Fax: 410-789-4638. Email: sales@novatec.com.

Robert J. Martino
Martino Communications Inc.
8 Main Street / P.O. Box 379
Hastings-on-Hudson, NY 10706 USA
Tel: 1-914-478-0754
Fax: 1-914-478-0959
bob@martinocommunications.com
Visit www.martinocommunications.com

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