ROTTERDAM, Netherlands, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Wood-plastic composites (WPC) are splinter-free, easy-to-clean, screwable, weather-resistant and simple to install. So it is not surprising that they have been achieving high growth rates, especially in wall and flooring profiles. The performance of WPCs is crucially dependent on the quality of the plastic component. Kosche GmbH, a leading producer of panels and profiles produced using WPCs, relies on Lupolen 5261Z high density polyethylene (HDPE) powder from LyondellBasell Industries for its "Kovalex" WPC. In a series of tests, the resin demonstrated superior processability and exceptionally high dimensional stability compared to other plastics.
Homogeneous mixture of wood and polymer
"In our tests, Lupolen 5261Z powder from LyondellBasell has exhibited particle size similar to that of wood. This enables us to produce an especially homogeneous mixture of wood and plastic," explained Ralf Hirland, the WPC product manager at Kosche. As a result of this good miscibility, higher output is achieved with a very low reject rate compared to other plastics.
Another advantage the HDPE powder mixture offers is low thermal expansion of Kovalex WPC profiles. "We subject our extruded profiles and panels to a rigorous testing procedure, in which the specimens are immersed in boiling water for five hours to measure water absorption and expansion behavior. The use of Lupolen powder has proven particularly beneficial in this respect as well, since it has a low water absorption of only one to two percent," explained Hirland. The most important WPC applications produced by Kosche include not only wall and flooring profiles, but window sills and table tops for the construction, gardening and furniture industries.
High wood content
Lupolen HDPE has also enabled Kovalex to reduce the amount of plastic necessary for the mixture. "In our applications, which are mainly in the construction industry, we must supply composites that look and feel like wood but perform better," added Hirland. At the present time, Kosche uses up to 70 percent wood for its Kovalex products. The content of HDPE is between 25 and 45 percent, depending upon application requirements. "If we were to use other materials, such as PVC, we would have to considerably reduce the wood content because of processing difficulties," said Kosche production manager Markus Petry. The end product made from the composite is 100 percent recyclable.
According to Daniel Schneider, LyondellBasell's Technical Service Manager for WPC Applications, "We are very pleased that our Lupolen HDPE powder enables us to meet increasing demands for more cost efficient, higher performing WPCs. With our wide range of innovative HDPE and polypropylene products, we will continue to address growing customer needs in WPC applications."
Wood-plastic composites have long been established in North America, but in recent years Europe has also seen a considerable increase in demand for these materials. The Kosche Group alone sold over 11,000 tonnes of Kovalex WPC products last year, making it the leading producer in Germany and Europe. To keep pace with the strong demand growth, the company has invested approximately four million Euros in development and production over the last six years.
LyondellBasell Industries is one of the world's largest polymers, petrochemicals and fuels companies. We are the global leader in polyolefins technology, production and marketing; a pioneer in propylene oxide and derivatives; and a significant producer of fuels and refined products, including bio-fuels. Through research and development, LyondellBasell develops innovative materials and technologies that deliver exceptional customer value and products that improve quality of life for people around the world. Headquartered in The Netherlands, LyondellBasell (http://www.lyondellbasell.com/) is privately owned by Access Industries.
SOURCE: LyondellBasell Industries
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