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ICTD International Centre for Training and Development

Polyethylene & Polypropylene Manufacturing & Process Troubleshooting

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About the course

Polyethylene and polypropylene are the synthetics champions, certainly in terms of quantity. These inert, food-friendly and easy-to-recycle materials make up more than half of our 'plastic' world. They are economic to produce, the scale of production is enormous and offer security of supply along with diversification in hundreds of different grades. But it is not just a matter of quantity that underlies their popularity. Quality is also a key component. The properties of polyethylene and polypropylene make them exceptionally well suited for the processing to all kinds of packaging, from wraps to bags and from crates to bottles and vessels. The intrinsic absence of food-contamination risks plus, in many cases, their substantial strength makes them safe in many important respects.

Nowadays, polyethylene and polypropylene are increasingly becoming a rival to engineering plastics and, to a lesser extent, classical elastomers. This is primarily attributable to their flexibility. The stiffness and toughness of polyethylene and polypropylene can be varied using modern catalysts or developing blends and making compounds with fillers, fibers and nano-particles, and thus intrinsically improve the polyethylene and polypropylene. These materials are tending to replace the heavier steel or aluminum used in car construction to dramatically reduce the weight of the car and improving its fuel economy. Polyethylene, with ultra-high molecular weight, is already well known as the raw material for super strong fibers (Dyneema) and new uses are also being developed in knee and hip prostheses (patented by DPI). The inertness that is so crucial to food-packaging is also a key factor in medical applications. Polyethylene and Polypropylene have found a place in the world of fibers and fabrics. Carpets with a polypropylene underside are quite common, but the carpet’s upper side can also be made from it. Further, they are also used in special sportswear, gloves, ropes, woven bags, etc. Not forgetting the special foams, made of low-density polyethylene, used in many cars to make them safe and comfortable.

All of these applications, and more, are made possible by a vast research force around the world working on these materials, leading to more applications, new insights into molecular structures and the kind of properties that may be expected from a variety of processing techniques. A wide variety of technologies produces the different polyethylene and polypropylene, either by catalysis or initiated by radicals. With new catalysts being discovered every year, the production technologies are being steadily modernized. Recently, important progress has been made in the modeling of catalytically active surfaces and catalysts, particularly in the field of metallocenes. The polyethylene and polypropylene industry is now at a crossroads with a revolution directly attributable to these metallocenes. The metallocene constrained geometry catalysts offer the control of the polyolefin structure and molecular weight as never before witnessed. New polymers based on propylene and ethylene are still evolving and sometimes new monomers enter fields where special properties are a must, like optics (polymethylpentene) and special elastomers (copolyethylene/norbornene).

This course is designed to present the structure, morphology, and properties of polyethylene and polypropylene synthesis. It focuses on synthetic advances, the use of additives, polyolefin blends, composites and fibers, and surface treatment, including a discussion of the problem of interfacial and superficial phenomena. The course considers both the primary industrial and more novel routes of synthesis. It examines new additives, including stabilizers, nucleating and clarifying agents, fillers and reinforcements, and coupling agents. It also describes thermodynamic properties of polyethylene and polypropylene solutions, explains functionalized and controlled lifetime polyolefins and more.

The Polyethylene and Polypropylene manufacturing process covered by this course use ethylene and propylene feedstocks from refinery crackers to produce polyethylene or polypropylene. No other feedback sources will be discussed.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, the delegates will be able to:

  • Apply comprehensive knowledge and skills in polyethylene & polypropylene manufacturing and troubleshoot manufacturing process
  • Characterize and differentiate the mechanical properties of polyethylene & polypropylene
  • Discuss the crystallography of polyethylene & polypropylene and describe the structural hierarchy and morphology of single crystals
  • Compare the properties of copolymers and blends, and describe the polymer melt processing including its rheological properties and orientation in flowing polymer melts
  • Demonstrate familiarity of catalyst technology, additives and the health, safety and environmental corners related to the manufacturing and processing of polyethylene and polypropylene

Course Outline

  • Polyolefins Structure and Technology
  • Characterization Methods of Polyethylene & Polypropylene
  • Mechanical Properties of Polyethylene & Polypropylene
  • Crystallography of Polyethylene & Polypropylene
  • Single Crystals: Structural Hierarchy and Morphology
  • Spherulites and Quiescent Crystallization
  • Copolymers and Blends
  • Polymer Melt Processing, Rheological Properties & orientation in Flowing Polymer Melts
  • Melt Spinning
  • Catalyst Technology
  • Additives
  • Health, Safety and Environmental Concerns (HSE)

Course Methodology

A variety of methodologies will be used during the course that includes:

  • (30%) Based on Case Studies
  • (30%) Techniques
  • (30%) Role Play
  • (10%) Concepts
  • Pre-test and Post-test
  • Variety of Learning Methods
  • Lectures
  • Case Studies and Self Questionaires
  • Group Work
  • Discussion
  • Presentation

Who should attend

This course is intended for those who have significant aspects and considerations of polyethylene and polypropylene manufacturing and process troubleshooting for process, chemical, operation, design and production engineers and technical staff. The course is suitable as well for environmental, laboratory, D&D and R&T staff including chemists, scientists, analysts, technologies, technicians and environmental professionals.

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