Braskem is always seeking to expand markets and achieve client loyalty through the development of new resins and alternative uses for plastic. In 2015, Braskem invested $98 MM US dollars in research and development. The company has two Innovation and Technology (I&T) Centers with 300 specialized professionals located in Triunfo, RS, Brazil and Pittsburgh, PA, USA. The main objective of the Innovation and Technology Centers is to provide technological support to the company as well as its clients. Braskem uses this support to optimize and develop applications, increasing competitiveness and collaborating with its clients to expand in the market.
To support the UTEC® business, Braskem installed equipment at its I&T Center in Pittsburgh.This equipment was installed to develop new UHMWPE products and support application and formulation development needs. Equipment available includes a sand slurry machine and abrasion wheel, compression molder, chiller, and a CNC router. This equipment is able to accurately test and demonstrate the superior wear resistance properties of UHMWPE. These tests allow for the quantification of abrasion benefits of UHMWPE versus competitive materials as well as for the evaluation of new and improved UHMWPE grades and formulation. In addition, the UTEC business has equipment for elongational stress testing and intrinsic viscosity evaluation to provide information about polymer molecular weight, as well as Charpy, Izod, and Flexural Modulus testing, all according to ASTM and ISO standards. This equipment has the ability to do developmental scale board and rod ram extrusion to assist in trouble shooting, new product or formulation development.
UTEC shares a facility with the company's world-class polypropylene business, which provides access to a wide variety of other thermal and physical analysis, microscopy, and rheological capabilities. The UTEC business also maintains access to a pilot plant and other specialized techniques and tests. These pilot plant facilities allow for a successful scale up transition from laboratory size experimentts to commercial scale. The pilot plant generates enough quantities of UHMWPE material for extensive evaluation withou t having to perform a larger scale commercial trial.
In addition, a lab scale UHMWPE reactor is available at the I&T Center. This reactor is utilized for evaluating various types of reaction chemicals and catalysts, plant support, and initial small scale material evaluation.