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PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

Christian Honemeyer, MTI Mischtechnik International GmbH

Titanium dioxide / TiO2 Effects on the mixing process

TiO2 is used in PVC formulations as a white pigment and a UV stabilizer. As a general rule, the more resistant the end product must be to UV radiation, the higher must be the TiO2 content of the PVC. Generally speaking, TiO2 makes no particular demands on the mixing technology itself. The abrasiveness of TiO2, however, makes demands on the actual mixing systems used, necessitating optimization of the mixing process (delayed addition of TiO2) and protection of the mixing vessels and mixing tools against wear.

Process optimization


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

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Coating of mixing tools

It is MTIs continuous endeavour to improve the anti-wear properties of its mixing tools and to keep pace with the demands of the PVC processing industry. At present there are three available types of coating ranging from highly wear-resistant down to relatively wear-resistant and deposit-repellent. In this regard, MTI sets great store by high-strength tungsten carbide compounds, these being considerably less sensitive to impact than ceramic compounds. The coatings are deposited by means of a high-temperature process that ensures the best possible bond between the stainless steel and the tungsten carbide. The entire surfaces of the mixing tools are coated except for the hubs. The coatings can be renewed two or three times. The worn coating is completely removed and the original contours of the tool are restored by build-up welding. The tool is then recoated and


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

cannot be distinguished from a new tool. Care must be taken to ensure that the tools are coated or recoated as soon as wear begins to occur and not considerably later. (Fig. 14)

Coating of mixing vessel / Increasing wall thickness

Whilst coating processes for the mixing vessels are also available, MTI strongly advises against their use. The wear-resistant coatings are deposited by means of cold processes so as not to damage the welded structure of the vessel. These coatings are not as durable as those deposited by means of a high-temperature process and, moreover, they are extremely sensitive to impact. Even small foreign bodies can damage the coating and a working repair is virtually impossible or at least extremely difficult. MTI prefers to increase the wall thickness of the vessel and then to machine out the inside and rework any worn areas. This method improves durability considerably. Regular maintenance (by reworking worn areas) reduces the rate of wear and prevents the rapid occurrence of local wear (spot wear). (Fig. 15) Besides all the known suitable stainless steel materials, special materials of even higher quality may be used. Special steels can be temper-hardened to give even greater resistance to wear and hence longer service life. What in the final analysis is the most sensible and economical solution to the problem is a matter that only the user can decide. Against the background of the REACH Legislation and Voluntary Commitment of the PVC Industry (Vinyl 2010) the conversion from Pb to Ca/Zn is a very topical issue. Many large extrusion companies have already converted, while others are in the process of doing so and some have not yet even come to terms with the idea. Although the substitution of Ca/Zn for Pb might sound a simple enough exercise, it does in fact involve all concerned in a multitude of problems. Besides those problems that directly affect the finished extruded product (behaviour in the extruder, colour stability, general quality-related problems etc.), there are a great many problems facing compounders, not least with regard to the mixing process, problems that did not exist prior to the change-over.

Use of materials of even higher quality

Change-over from Pb to Ca/Zn


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

While the previously described moisture problems incurred with CaCO3 also occur with Ca/Zn, the problem here is much more elementary and not just a matter of optimizing the formulation. In the case of CaCO3, the problem could be solved by reducing its content or by using coated CaCO3. With Ca/Zn there is no such way out. The problems are there and solutions have yet to be found. Nor is there any way around the aforementioned legislation, and the consumer demand for lead-free products is growing constantly. As far as the mixing process is concerned, a solution must be found to the problem of the build-up of deposits on the walls of the heating mixer that then drop back into the compound as hard particles. The consequences are: Fish eyes in the extrudate Streaks on the end product Deficient homogeneity Fluctuations in colour (in the case of pigmented profiles) etc.

Deposit formation on the walls of the heating mixer

Small components adhere particularly well to the built-up deposits, with the result that the colour is now no longer correct and/or important formulation components for the downstream process are now lacking. The minimum end product re quire ments can no longer be met and there is an inordinate rise in the scrap rate. The moisture from the heating mixer process accompanies the product into the cooling mixer, where it then likewise causes a build-up of PVC compound on the inner jacket of the cooling mixer vessel: The cooling efficiency is diminished There is a drop in output More frequent cleaning is required (Increased labour costs / drop in available capacity, hence reduced efficiency)

Deposit formation on the walls of the cooling mixer

In some cases, the moisture-related formation of deposits on the walls of the mixer is further aggravated by the build-up of static electricity in the mixing vessel. The growing problems with moisture resulting both from the change-over to Ca/Zn and from the economic need for increased CaCO3 content necessitate the development of technical solutions that will eliminate the problems and optimize the mixing processes. To this end, MTI has developed an Aspiration System that can be retrofitted to existing mixing systems and considerably improves the compounding process. The controlled dehumidification of the compound during the mixing phase exercises a positive influence on: - Deposit formation on the walls of the heating mixer

Prospects / trends in the industry


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

Homogeneity and quality of the compound Conveying and warehousing of the compound Quality and rate of extrusion etc., and hence on Economic efficiency and productivity.

The system comprises a special self-clean ing filter, a change-over damper (normal room air / controlled ventilation), a suction fan and a fresh air inlet valve. The process, which is described below in detail, takes place in several stages. As already mentioned, the filters are subjected to a heavy loading of dust during the first stage of the process (charging). If this dust is not removed, the moisture given off by the CaCO3 and Ca/Zn can immediately precipitate and cause a blockage of the filters. In order to eliminate this problem, a short blast of compressed air is introduced into the centre of the filter cartridge in order to dislodge the dust particles, which then drop back into the compound. (Figs. 17 and 18) Once it has been dedusted, the filter is clean and ready to perform all its further functions during the course of the mixing process. Moisture begins to evaporate out of the compound at around 70 to 80 C and rises into the empty space above the product and into the filter. The absence of aeration causes the moisture to condense. In order to prevent condensation, the fan is started up and the change-over damper switched from normal room air to controlled ventilation. The fan immediately generates a stream of air, which entrains the humidity but cannot yet escape from the mixing vessel because the fresh air inlet valve is still closed.

Aspiration System (Fig. 16)

Charging / dedusting the filter

Dehumidification (Figs. 19 to 21)


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

When the fresh air inlet valve is opened, a controlled stream of air enters the mixing vessel, entrains the humidity and is extracted by the suction fan via the filter and the flexible hose. The humidity in the air is reduced immediately and cannot condense on the walls of the mixing vessel or inside the filter. Shortly before the compound reaches its final temperature, the fresh air inlet valve is closed, the change-over damper is set back to its starting position and the


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

suction fan is switched off (in that order). The dehumidifying process is now completed and the dry compound can be fed to the cooling mixer. The heating mixer filter is then dedusted in readiness for the next charge. Many firms already operate mixers with aspiration systems, but without ever having properly tested them for their efficacy. It is often readily assumed that a system that has been purchased and installed for a specific purpose will give the expected performance. This is often not the case in reality. Existing aspiration systems may leave much to be desired, typical shortcomings being: - Filters without dedusting facility, mostly filter bags - Unsuitable filter material (either defective or completely clogged) Generally recommended centralized extraction or aspiration systems give rise to problems that are only seldom recognized: - Fluctuations in flow rates due to large number of consumers - No pause function when dedusting filters. The detached particles are immediately sucked back into the filter and cling to the material even more firmly than before - No ready means of checking the condition of the filters in the enclosed system. The filters are often damaged or even partially disintegrated. Such defects remain unnoticed by reason of the totally enclosed system (It must be working properly if no dust is coming out!) - If the filters are defective, fine component particles are extracted from the compound and cannot be fed back into the mixing process. The consequences are an unbalanced compound, an end product lacking the desired properties and hence a higher scrap rate - Malfunctioning machine componentse - e.g. condensation trap: although moisture can be extracted from the compound, it condenses too quickly and flows back into the mixing vessel - Inadequate or non-existent supply of fresh air, making air exchange impossible and reducing moisture only negligibly or not at all.

Problems with existing aspiration systems

Future prospects & demands / The topics of the coming months

- Change-over from Pb to Ca/Zn - Increasing CaCO3 content in PVC compounds - Bigger is better the trend towards ever larger mixing systems - Dual combinations (1 heating mixer with 2 cooling mixers up to 12 batches per hour are possible) - e.g. M 2000 / 2 x K 6000 - U-PVC (Europe) approx. 8,000 kg/hr - U-PVC (North America) approx. 14,000 kg/hr


PROCESSING Current trends in PVC mixing processes, Part 3

- P-PVC (Europe) approx 6,000 kg/hr - New areas of application, e.g. WPC (PP, PE and PVC) - Optimizing energy consumption / Modification or replacement of existing mix ing systems MTI Mischtechnik International GmbH Ohmstr. 8, D-32758 Detmold, Germany Phone: +49 5231 914-0