Borealis Polymers: Better plastics with a new catalyst

Advanced catalysts are superior to conventional catalysts in terms of production and product properties: catalysts produced using an emulsion method are extremely homogeneous, thus making end products brighter and purer.

Borealis Polymers Oy research centre in Porvoo has long developed polyolefin production technologies.  One of the most successful research efforts focused on the development of new, more homogeneous catalysts.

"Catalysts play a major role in regulating reactions in the production of plastic raw materials. We developed our new Sirius catalyst technology, in which catalyst production and properties are vastly superior to those of conventional catalysts. The new catalyst is made from an emulsion solution, which is why its particles share a homogeneous structure and chemical composition throughout. Thanks the homogeneity of the catalyst, even finished polymers are brighter and purer," explains Gunilla Herrgård, Chief Scientist for Borealis Polymers Oy.

Wide range of applications

"The Sirius catalyst works exceptionally well in film and fibre applications as well as in the production of extremely soft products. For example, an infusion bag can be made of polypropylene without requiring the use of phthalates, which can leach into the liquid contained in the bag.

"And, due to the homogeneous catalyst, a manufactured polymer product is also homogeneous. This is advantageous on, for example, large film and fibre production lines, which operate at high speeds. Inconsistent films or fibres break easily and can result in considerable production losses."

The catalyst technology developed by Borealis in Finland is unique in all of the world. The first polypropylene production line to use the Sirius catalyst was brought on line in Germany in 2007.

Catalyst and process research in Finland

"Products made with the Sirius catalyst are better than equivalent competitor products. We have brought in new clientele and the technology has had a major impact on Borealis' turnover. Successful product development has had a positive impact on our research resources in Finland, which is where Borealis' catalyst and process research is located."

The risks were extremely high in catalyst research – at first, no one really believed that we would succeed. Without Tekes' funding, development work would never have happened, or at least it would have been considerably hindered. With Tekes' support, we were able to also extensively network with our university partners: University of Joensuu has played a decisive role. Some of our other partners are the University of Helsinki, Åbo Akademi University and the Technical University of Berlin. Together, we have been able to develop unparalleled expertise in catalysts."

Further information:
Chief Scientist
Gunilla Herrgård
Borealis Polymers Oy
Tel. +358 (0)9 3949 4847

Text: Teonsana