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Antioxidant Trends that Enhance Durable Plastic Products

SpecialChem / Jan 25, 2010

Essentially all plastic materials undergo oxidation reactions which can occur at every stage of the life cycle of a polymer from manufacturing and storage of the material through its compounding/processing and end use. Exposure to oxidation reactions is also increased with the growing use of recycled plastics in which the material is subjected to multiple processing operations and extended use under various conditions. Such oxidative degradation in most plastics manifests itself in changes in chemical composition and molecular weight. Plastics may lose mechanical properties (e.g. impact, tensile strength). Additionally products may take on a rougher surface appearance, and discoloration may result. Decreased or increased polymer molecular weight changes also occur (caused by chain scission or crosslinking respectively). While such degradation cannot be completely eliminated, it can be significantly inhibited through the addition of appropriate antioxidants. Cooperation between plastic resin manufacturers and antioxidant suppliers has achieved dramatic improvement of plastics oxidative resistance allowing them to be used in wider and more demanding durable goods applications. Continued collaboration in this area will allow further performance improvements at better cost, with easier handling/dosing while assuring worker and user health and safety. On a global basis, antioxidants valued at US$2.2 billion were used in plastics in 2008. This use is projected to grow to US$2.87 by 2015 for an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 4.5%. Antioxidants differ widely from each other in terms of reactivity/effectiveness and are selected based on the antioxidant needs of specific plastics in a given application.

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