View challenge: C-0150-0104 - Seeking to improve thermoplastic (especially polyolefin) performance properties by using additives
Our client is looking to improve the performance properties of polyolefins, polyethylenes, and thermoplastics generally. Additives, ingredients, fillers, modifiers, agents and other methods are all of interest. We are open to new additives that enhance any of a long list of properties, or that can enhance the performance of additives already in use.


Any additive changes the balance of properties for a given plastic. Talc, wollastonite, and glass fibers are the most usual conventional additives. Typically, talc can comprise 10-30% of a polypropylene by weight. While talc produces a stiffer plastic, the resulting composite is relatively dense. Glass fiber can typically provide the same stiffness as talc at lower use levels. While this provides a less dense composite, it presents other challenges -- such as undesirable surface defects.

Our client's focus is on finding new ingredients, modifiers, or agents that improve the balance of properties of a thermoplastic (in particular, a polyolefin) over what is currently used today. The list of properties of interest includes:

o Lighter weight
o Higher modulus
o Increase tensile strength
o Improve impact resistance
o Improve heat resistance
o Decrease density (while maintaining the same or greater strength)
o Minimize shrinkage
o Improve surface finish, feel, optical appearance, and similar aesthetics
o Improve scratch resistance and surface hardness
o Improve stiffness
o Minimize or eliminate abrasiveness (causes problems during extrusion)

Ideally, your proposed additive would provide new properties in plastics or improvements over anything currently available; or, your additive would maintain current-equivalent properties but at a greatly reduced weight or much lower cost. For example, we would be interested in a technology that would enable a lower-cost polymer resin to replace a higher-cost resin without sacrificing quality, or a resin that would provide equivalent performance to a high-cost resin, but at a lesser quantity.

Early-stage technologies are acceptable, but it is preferred that you have reduced the technology to practice at least at the lab scale.


Safety is important to us. Any new ingredient should not create safety hazards when inhaled during mixing or cause harm during incineration or processing.

Your additive must work with an extruder (or possibly a compounder). An additive that is too abrasive -- over 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale -- may be harder than the steel in an extruder. We may make an exception for a true nano-scale additive.

No restriction between organic or inorganic additives.

We are NOT currently interested in new polymers (unless the polymer is added to polyolefins), new processes, or new machines.


Materials science in organics and inorganics.

Solutions from paper/packaging industry, metal, ceramics, thermoset resins.

Additives from other industries that might be dispersable into polyolefins.
Key Expectation from the solution
Must Meet
 Provide enhanced or additional properties not currently available for polyolefins or polyethylenes
Must Meet
 Not create safety hazards when inhaled during mixing or cause harm during incineration or processing
Must Meet
 Your additive must work with an extruder (or possibly a compounder)
Good if Met
Good if Met
Good if Met
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Challenge Start date: 07-May-10         
End date: 31-Aug-10
 In progress
 Need attention