Milliken Overcomes Nucleation in Polethylene and Drives Production Improvements

Milliken Chemical, a division of Milliken & Company, has overcome one of the toughest challenges in the plastics packaging industry - successful nucleation of polyethylene (PE). The company's Hyperform HPN-20E is currently the most efficient PE nucleation agent available globally. Hyperform HPN-20E nucleating agent enables higher peak crystallization temperatures that can cut cycle times and drive productivity improvements of 10 to 20 percent (depending upon processing and resin design).

It can also increase oxygen and water vapor barrier performance between 20 to 40 percent (depending upon processing and resin design), providing the possibility of extended shelf life of packaged perishables such as dry foods, dairy products, vitamins and nutraceuticals. Hyperform HPN-20E and other upcoming Milliken nucleation solutions support sustainability by enabling broader use of PE, an easily recycled plastic, in diverse packaging applications.

Dry Food Bags and Household and Industrial Chemical Bottles are Candidate Applications for Milliken Chemical’s Hyperform® HPN-20E.

This technology is appropriate for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) used in blown film, extrusion blow molding and injection molding, as well as in linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), especially C4 gas phase LLDPE.

"Building on our global leadership in nucleation agents for polypropylene, Milliken is now also focused on polyethylene to meet a longstanding need in the packaging industry for processing and performance enhancements," said Wim Van de Velde, global marketing manager, Polyethylene Nucleation, Milliken Chemical. "We are making a major investment in the development of new polyethylene additive technologies to assist our customers and encourage use of this recyclable material. Nucleated polypropylene and polyethylene are environmentally responsible alternatives to other resins. We are confident that our Hyperform technologies will have a significant, positive impact on the packaging industry and on plastics recycling efforts."

Benefits for Processors, Packagers, Consumers

Milliken's Hyperform HPN-20E nucleating agent delivers important advantages across the PE industry. For converters and molders, this technology cuts cycle times to lower system costs. Hyperform HPN-20E raises the peak crystallization temperature of PE and significantly increases the rate of crystallization (half time is decreased), allowing parts to be de-molded faster in injection molding and extrusion blow molding, and helping to increase output in blown film.

The change in crystal orientation of the nucleated polymer also results in a 20 to 40 percent improvement in barrier properties in HDPE blown film and extrusion blow molded applications. This is very important in packaging for dry foods such as cereals. Companies using PE treated with Hyperform HPN-20E now have the choice of two desirable results: increasing shelf life of products with a film of existing thickness, or using a thinner-gauge film to maintain current shelf life.

Improved barrier performance also cuts costs by reducing evaporation. By changing to nucleated PE, personal care product manufacturers would no longer need to overfill bottles and containers to compensate for volume loss due to the permeation of water vapor, nor would they need to add additional fragrances to ensure a long lasting presence.

Hyperform HPN-20E is also a good clarifier for LLDPE blown film, especially C4 gas phase LLDPE. Given the shortage of LDPE in some parts of the world, this technology could enable converters to reduce the amount of LDPE used in a typical LLDPE/LDPE blend solution where LDPE is used to improve optics and not melt strength.

Hyperform HPN-20E is commercially available worldwide in pure powder additive form or through a masterbatch solution.

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