Kiefel: International Press Briefing

At the international press conference of KIEFEL Extrusion GmbH, representatives of Lyondell Chemical Company presented information regarding grades of bimodal high molecular weight polyethylenes that are specially suited for the production of MDO films.

Lyondell’s polymers business, headquartered in Houston, Texas, USA, has established a leadership position in the area of polymer and film structure development for MDO applications. KIEFEL has worked closely with the company on the development of its KIRION® MDO module to satisfy specific material and film property requirements. Lyondell’s polymers business is conducted through Lyondell’s wholly owned subsidiary, Equistar Chemicals, LP.

Lyondell’s polymer research is focused on understanding the structure-property relationships of MDO films, which can be utilized to design film structures containing polymers with bimodal molecular weight distributions that meet both application performance and economic needs. As a result of this work, enhancements in film properties achieved by utilizing MDO were modeled, drastically reducing the time and costs of developing innovative flexible packages. For example, the tear strength, clarity, toughness and stiffness of a polymer film can be tailored to meet a specific application need by incorporating the proper MDO conditions, polymer selection and film structure design.

An overview of both historical and new flexible packaging applications that can utilize MDO films was presented. Markets of interest range from tags and labels to lamination replacements, showing the breadth of opportunities for oriented bimodal high molecular weight polyethylene films. Details regarding market size and key drivers for the incorporation of MDO films were discussed, which further substantiated the reality of MDO technology as the next paradigm shift in polymer film technology. The results of a detailed economic model of MDO film fabrication were shared, which validated the significant financial drivers for the incorporation of MDO into a flexible packaging film line.

Supported by this research conducted by Lyondell’s polymer business and the know-how in the construction of blown film lines of the German specialist at Kiefel, MDO films can now be fabricated that are not only optimized for their specific application, but are capable of reducing material consumption while improving film properties. Furthermore, material costs can possibly be reduced by incorporating standard polymers in flexible packaging applications that have been previously reserved for more costly specialty polymers, blends or co-extrusions. With the availability of a functioning MDO machine module from KIEFEL, Lyondell sees the opportunity for further developments.

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