October 20, 2010
Behind-The-Scenes Advances Underpin New Super-Strong Plastics
Long-awaited advances in reducing the cost of certain catalysts "” substances that kick-start chemical reactions "” have quietly led to production of super-strong forms of the world's most widely used plastics, according to the cover story of the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine. These upgraded forms of polyethylene have led to availability of stronger, more durable consumer products ranging from garbage bags to camping cookware.
C&EN Senior Editor Alexander Tullo notes that the catalysts, called "metallocenes," engendered excitement years ago because they allowed production of stronger forms of polyethylene plastics. The world's most widely used plastic, polyethylene is a mainstay in plastic shopping bags and other items. However, hopes that metallocene plastics would replace conventional polyethylene plastics faded because of the high costs of these catalysts.
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