Equistar Chemicals LP, a $5.9 billion chemical company formed in 1997, is one of the world's largest producers of ethylene, propylene, and polyethylene resins, with more than 3,000 employees and 16 manufacturing facilities along the US Gulf Coast and in the Midwest.
Its facilities have a combined annual capacity to produce more than 11 billion lb of ethylene and more than 5 billion lb of polyethylene, along with other specialty products such as ethyl vinyl acetate.
So it's not surprising Equistar's Technology Center, a three-building complex located in Cincinnati, OH, operates what associate scientist Richard Sylvester calls "one of the finest pilot lines around."
The company's 260,000-sq-ft pilot lab is used both internally, to develop polymers and conduct quality control checks on raw and extruded materials, and by customers for new development trials, which are conducted by Equistar's own lab technicians.
"It helps us develop products and maintain quality by checking how our products perform," says Sylvester. "It also helps our customers develop new products, which is very important."
Plasma Treating Capabilities
The lab's most recent addition is an Enercon Plasma3™ treater that, for the first time, allows Equistar to post-treat films, foil, paper, and paperboard. As the world's first atmospheric plasma treatment system for the optimal treatment and functionalizing of web surfaces, Plasma3™ treats films, papers, foams, wovens and nonwovens, fibers, metals, and powders.
"Plasma3™ gives you treatment levels that normally cannot be attained by other systems, either flame or corona, which can damage the surface of the polymer if you tryto obtain thosetypes of dyne levels."
What makes the Enercon Plasma3™ treater unique, says Sylvester, is it utilizes a very low flame and a unique combination of gases that deliver high treatment levels without destroying the surface. "You can also take it one step further and use it as a pretreater. It's really been a great addition to our capabilities," says Sylvester.
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