A new titanium catalyst technology for the industrial production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) polyester is now being adopted around the globe as PET manufacturers and processors seek to eliminate the use of the heavy-metal catalyst, antimony oxide.
The technology was developed by Catalytic Technologies Ltd. (CTL), a company established in late 2010 on Teesside in the UK. To date the company has invested over £1m on research and development and in 2013 it launched its patent pending UP-Technology platform that is said to “exhibit performance unlike any other PET catalyst.”
UP is a catalyst technology platform that allows CTL to produce catalysts with unique chemical composition and that eliminates undesired side reactions in this application.
In addition to eliminating antimony oxide, the new catalyst is said to offer high polymer thermal stability, improved brightness and clarity owing to lower impurity content, a significant net reduction in the overall process energy required to produce plastic packaging and lighter bottles without compromising on bottle strength.
The company’s UP-Technology platform is being exploited on industrial scale plants in Asia with further commercial trials scheduled and worldwide pilot unit testing ongoing.
The group invested in a continuous pilot unit catalyst trial on Uhde Inventa-Fischer’s state of the art polyester 2R-MTR pilot plant. The trial reportedly enabled substantial testing of CTL’s new UP-catalysts by independent PET polyester production specialists to demonstrate the benefits of the catalyst technology compared to the industry antimony reference.
CTL’s new products target the markets for mainstream, high intrinsic viscosity PET resin and sheet used for the production of bottle and packaging plastics. Their use is currently greater than 30 million metric tonnes per annum.
Dr. Alan Cooper, Technical Director, said: “The eco-credentials of our new UP-Technology are indisputable. The UP Technology platform can be modified to act as a drop-in replacement to current heavy metal catalysts for all PET production processes without any compromises. This new UP-Technology benefits everyone along the supply chain; PET resin manufacturers, resin processors and the packaging consumers. Importantly, all of these wide ranging advantages can be achieved without an increase in cost to the consumer.”
CTL says it aims to take over 50 percent of the PET resin and sheet market within the next five years, and also has plans to apply the platform to other organo-titanium and zirconium areas.