High endurance and multistage recycling: NKNK successfully masters thermoplastic production
Without environmental damage
Tatarstan’s petrochemical flagship — Nizhnekamskneftekhim PJCS — continues to confidently master new types of products that are in demand in the polymer market. The company has informed about the production of two brands of thermoplastics — SBS-330L (linear) and SBS-330B (branched).
TPE is polymer granules that simultaneously possess characteristics of both elastomers and plastics. High mechanic endurance, the possibility of reshaping and multistage recycling without environmental damage are key features of TPE.
Laboratory research, pilot tests and commercial launch were carried out for these purposes. A laboratory discontinuous plant in an autoclave reactor was used to produce the SBS brands. As a result, the optimal conditions were selected to manufacture butadiene styrene.
In the future, the SBS manufacturing approaches were improved in a pilot unit of the R&D Centre that designs all stages of the commercial intermittent production of triblock copolymer butadiene and styrene.
Improved features of bitumen
Linear TPE SBS brands are used to modify bitumen in road construction. The main edge of this polymer is that it not only fills the gap between bitumen asphaltenes, it creates a spatial elastic bar that provides bitumen with elastomer functions.
The advantages of bitumen modified with butadiene styrene thermoplastic elastomer:
- higher elasticity and resistance to deformation;
- higher resistance to heat, frost, fissures in frequent temperature changes;
- 2-3 times longer lifespan of the road;
- better dewatering from the road surface (porous asphalt);
- 10-20% less tyre wear on asphalt;
- 6-8 decibels less traffic noise.
The use of polymer-bitumen binders (PBB) increases the lifespan of road surfaces between repairs from 3-4 years to 7-10 years. At the same time, the rise in the total cost of road construction if PBB is used doesn’t exceed 1%.
Residues return to manufacturing process
SBS-330B TPE is another product of NKNK. It has a branched structure and, as a rule, is used to modify roofing materials.
The use of SBS-330B as polymer additive to roofing materials allows manufacturing materials with good flexibility and frost resistance. The possibility of recycling into goods via foundry and extrusion without vulcanisation is a distinctive feature of thermoplastic elastomers. Production residues completely return to the manufacturing process.
TPE goods are safe and durable. They are widely used in numerous sectors of the economy such as the production of roofing and road bitumen, impact-resistant plastics, shoe sole materials, anti-corrosion coatings, adhesives, cables, artificial leather, etc.
Workers of Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s R&D Centre were given the task of developing and mastering the technology to make linear butadiene styrene triblock copolymer in 2018. In 2019, the Centre started to master the manufacturing of the branched SBS.
The thermoplastic production process at NKNK is fully automated. Ready granules are packed on a special line into a specific soft packaging — big bags.
Nowadays orders to purchase of commercial batches of linear and branched thermoplastics for homologation have been received from potential consumers.