SBIR Phase I: Continuous Production of Lightweight and Energy Efficient Solid-State Microcellular Panels from Recycled PET

Period of Performance: 01/01/2009 - 12/31/2009

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

MicroGREEN Polymers, Inc.
7220 201st Street NE
Arlington, WA 98223
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project aims to create multilayered panels of microcellular recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET). Today's $1.44 billion wall paneling and decorative tile market is increasingly focused on sustainable and energy-efficient building materials. This project will explore the feasibility of continuously producing thick solid-state microcellular plastic panels from RPET feedstock with thermal insulation properties comparable to or better than existing materials. Solid-state microcellular RPET foams provide high strength and do not require chemical blowing agents, which contain volatile organic compounds. PET is the most recycled plastic in the United States. However, of the 2.3 billions pounds of water bottles collected annually in the US, only 24% are currently recycled. Building materials made from RPET could utilize this untapped source and in turn, could be recycled again. We will develop a process for continuous production of solid-state microcellular RPET panels by fusion bonding microcellular foam rolls. The proposed approach to fusion bond flexible, thin foam layers into thicker panels will eliminate the need for bonding adhesive. Prototype panels of 0.25"" thickness will be created. Technical data will be collected during this project, enabling a detailed commercial feasibility and process cost modeling exercise. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be to satisfy the construction industry's rapidly