Ti-News n. 21 // February 2019 - page 9

Ti
news
9
Technical Focus
Q&A on Compatibilizers
Q: What are compatibilizers?
A: Compatibilizers typically are block
copolymer chains that, by design, have
different chemistries on each end of the
polymer chain in order to bring together
disparate plastics into a single, viable blend.
Q: Why are they important?
A: Simply stated, they allow mixed plastics,
like polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene
(PP), to be recycled together without
degradation of the value of the blended
result.
Q: How do they work?
A: Compatibilizers arrange themselves at
the interface between the two polymers and
reduce the repellent forces which naturally
occur when dissimilar chemicals are brought
into proximity.
Q: What are the advantages of
compatibilized blends?
A: With suitable materials and processing
conditions, polymer blends can be created
and fine-tuned to provide an attractive
balance of properties suitable for a
multitude of end-use applications.
Q: Are there compatibilizers for polymers
other than PE and PP?
A: While there is no one-size-fits-
all solution, a number of inventive
compatibilizers have been developed
in recent years which are
efficient in upgrading post-
consumer scrap within certain limits
set by polymer physics. Although many
compatibilizers for a broad variety of
polymers have been synthesized in
both commercial and academic studies,
commercialization is limited at this point.
Q: How do compatibilizers fit into the
circular economy?
A: Compatibilizers allow PE and PP from
post-consumer waste to be reused, which
facilities both economic and environmental
benefits. The need for virgin polymers
is reduced, while olefins that previously
would have been relegated to landfills as
waste are now usable. Instead of recycling
that renders undervalued blended plastic,
introducing compatibilizers creates
economic value by increasing performance
and surface properties of the resulting
material, which can then be used in higher
value applications.
Taghleef’s R&D team continues to explore
all innovations in technology, including
compatibilizers, which play an important
role in the circular economy.
Compatibilizers are a key component in the
circular economy. What are they? Why are they
important? Taghleef’s Group R&D Manager
Gerhard Wieners sorts it out.
Gerhard Wieners
Group R&D Manager
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