Eurothane Ltd recently won a CASE award, enabling them to access expertise, knowledge and facilities to help them create a new, greener form of polyurethane. The award will enable a student to work solely on this project for the duration of their PhD, forming a vital link between Eurothane and Aston University.
Eurothane Ltd is a company specialising in themanufacture of Thermoplastic Polyurethanes(TPU), principally used in injection mouldingand extrusion. They hold a niche in the marketfor low volume, technically difficultformulations for companies in the automotive(e.g. Nissan) and leisure (e.g. Adidas and Nike)sectors and has a strong reputation fordeveloping new materials for demandingapplications. Eurothane supply productswhich end up in golf shoe spikes, tank tracks,plastic horseshoes and even car aerials!
The company have identified a significant market opportunity to develop a newenvironmentally friendly compostable andbiodegradable TPU material for a wide rangeof these existing high tonnage applicationsand in new areas. The aim of the CASEproject is to develop a compostable orbiodegradable TPU material with suitablecharacteristics and properties to withstand both the harsh processing conditions and to deliver the in-service performance demanded by the end-use product. Aston’s PPP Research Unit is one of the few academic centres within the UK that is able to offer expertise and research facilities to attend to the interdisciplinary needs of basic and applied polymer research, particularly in the application of additives and the modification of polymers for improving the performance of polymers during processing/manufacturing and in-service in terms stabilisation and for developing controlled degradation of polymers.
The extreme demands placed on the nature of the proposed new material presents enormous scientific challenges. Controlling stability during service followed by rapid degradability is a very challenging task. The synthesis of compostable and degradable TPU material will require new chemical strategies that would be able to deliver a material that possesses a highly controllable balance of properties that can withstand the harsh manufacturing processes and still retain the target in-service performance.