Basell claims that the resin, based on its Spherizone process technology, achieves a unique combination of optical properties, high stiffness, low gel and odour levels, and good sealing performance for laminated film and transparent packaging film applications.
The new resin has a high thermal resistance and allows for the introduction of a thermal sealing gradient. This allows the flexible design of lamination film at variable thicknesses. Potential applications include retortable food pouches and high clarity thin film for packaging baked goods, biscuits and vegetables.
"We demonstrated the resin's impressive optical properties under high throughput extrusion conditions at last year's Kunststoffe 2004 fair in Düsseldorf," said Nicolas Kokel, film innovation and value manager for Basell Polyolefins Europe.
"In co-operation with Hosokawa-Alpine, a 30µm three-layer blown film was produced at 390 kg/h throughput with true polypropylene-like clarity."
In high-clarity film trials, various three-layer co-extruded structures were produced. The internal polyolefin layer is based on a combination of polypropylene, polyethylene and advanced polyolefins to meet demanding application requirements.
Polypropylene is currently one of the fastest growing polymers with forecasted demand growth at twice GDP for the foreseeable future. Much of this growth is attributed to polypropylene's ability to displace conventional materials such as wood, glass, metal and other thermoplastics at lower cost.
Polypropylene, when combined with ethylene, produces a resin that can be used in a variety of food and beverage packaging applications, including films for all kinds of foods as well as blow moulded bottles for orange juice, milk and other soft drinks.
Basell claims that Clyrell RC 1314 resin is processed into blown film without a visible crystallisation line or film structure, and with impressive transparency devoid of a milky taint.
"The addition of Clyrell RC 1314 resin to our product portfolio demonstrates Basell's continuous leadership in the development of polypropylene-based blown film resins," said Kokel.
The new launches build on a fairly solid year for the company, despite the significant rise of raw material costs. Basell increased prices on all grades of its polypropylene and polyethylene products sold in Europe by €100 per tonne in October 2004.
"Recent price increases have not kept pace with rising monomer costs," said Werner Breuers, president of Basell Polyolefins Europe. "An additional price increase is necessary in order to bring our margins to satisfactory levels."
The cost of natural gas and petroleum, the starting point for the production of many types of packaging resins, have increased consistently this year. This has had an inevitable knock-on effect on the cost of manufacturing packaging materials.
Basell is the world's largest producer of polypropylene and advanced polyolefin products, a leading supplier of polyethylene and catalysts, and a global leader in the development and licensing of polypropylene and polyethylene processes.
Europe represents the world's largest packaging market, valued at $129 billion, and there remains considerable scope for growth. However, the recent fluctuations reveal how closely tied the industry is to the energy market.