Norner and HTExplore join forces to bridge the gap between catalyst High Throughput Screening (HTS) and application development of polymers.
The present and future demands from polymer producers and catalyst manufacturers call for a highly integrated service offer, addressing each step of the polymer value chain with multiscale approaches, ranging from testing of novel catalysts at very small scale to the processing and application testing of real-size polymer prototypes. In this context, Norner and HTExplore have decided to establish a partnership to combine the long-term experience in catalyst and product development at bench and pilot scale of Norner with the HTS technologies mastered and operated by HTExplore.
Finding the right balance between the ingredients in a complex catalyst recipe is demanding and requires an HTS approach to cover the very broad variable space followed by polymer analysis to understand the effect of recipe and parameters. This will provide a theoretical basis to make choices for upscaling of such catalyst systems. On the other hand, the development and implementation of a catalyst system also require testing in more commercially relevant conditions in order to fully understand both the fit to the reactor systems and conditions and how the resulting polymer perform in processing and applications.
Norner has been developing catalysts and polymers along with solving problems by scaling polymerization down to litre and kg scale in bench scale reactors for more than 40 years. At this scale, we can effectively and with low risk operate in a much wider process window than in pilot plants and full-scale production units and mimic a variety of olefin polymerisation technologies. Producing 0,5 to 5 kg polymer per experiment makes it possible to carry out full characterization and application testing of the polymers, giving relevant data for introduction of new grades in commercial scale. For catalyst development however, this scale has its clear limitations in cost and speed.
HTExplore operates an HTS polymerisation workflow based on two PPR48 platforms, which allow the parallel production at mL scale of 48 polymer samples per day. This requires very small amount of catalyst and produce between 50 to 400mg polymer per cell. The reactor cells can be operated between 40 and 200°C and between 2 and 30 bar, with up to six different temperature and pressure settings per library. Various types of polyolefin catalysts can be screened in solution or slurry in semi batch fashion with a single monomer gas fed on demand and with gaseous or liquid comonomers. The samples can be analysed and characterised by HTExplore with GPC, CEF and NMR for the accurate assessment of molecular weight-, compositionaland microstructural parameters. This has proven to be a very effective way to map catalyst performance for screening purposes. At the same time, the absence of polymer application data is just as obvious.
We strongly believe that the industrial R&D experience of Norner combined with the scientific expertise of HTExplore will create significant value to our clients. By unifying the two workflows we will provide our clients with the best of two worlds. Using a metaphor from Oil & Gas Exploration, HTS corresponds to the seismic tools used to find the promising oil fields, while bench scale reactors corresponds to the test rigs drilling down to evaluate if the area is commercially viable.
Furthermore, we offer more than the screening of readily made catalysts as we also have both computational and experimental tools for catalyst development in addition to our long experience in the field. In connection with any new catalyst-, process- or product development, the preliminary IP and FTO (Freedom to operate) studies are also offered in cooperation with IP legal experts.
Hence together, Norner and HTExplore will offer a streamlined and highly integrated workflow which will enable efficient, reliable and market relevant catalyst- and polymer development services for catalyst manufacturers and polymer producers.
HTExplore is a young hightech company established in Naples (Italy) in 2012 by Prof. Busico, which offers HTS services in polyolefin catalysis, leveraging from a long-term academic tradition directly linked to the school of Giulio Natta. HTExplore combines a rigorous scientific approach with state-of-the-art HTS technologies, operated by highly specialized personnel within a stimulating academic environment.