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Next Generation Microlayer Annular Co-Extrusion

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-SC0023784
Agency Tracking Number: 0000274465
Amount: $205,862.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: C56-20c
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0002903
Solicitation Year: 2023
Award Year: 2023
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2023-07-10
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-04-09
Small Business Information
10 Pike Street
West Warwick, RI 02893
United States
DUNS: 001198233
HUBZone Owned: Yes
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Denis Finn
 (401) 464-2953
Business Contact
 Denis Finn
Phone: (401) 464-2953
Research Institution

Annular extruded plastics are in everything from fuel lines, hoses, pipes, and wires to catheters, medical tubing, and stents and makes up about ? of the $200B extruded plastics market. Extrusion manufacturing is a major processor of the $600B raw plastics industry, which produces 380 million metric tons of material each year. The production of these materials accounts for 4% of oil consumption and 3% of energy consumption world-wide. Extrusion manufacturing is widely used because it is a highly scalable process, where up to 60% of costs can be directly attributed to material usage. This means that just the slightest improvements in the extrusion manufacturing process can have incredibly scalable and widespread impacts on energy consumption, oil usage, material consumption, and end-products worldwide. Next generation annular microlayer extrusion processes can enable higher-performing materials and end-products that can drive down material and energy usage across the extrusion industry. The Phase I project is estimated to have a savings of over 550,000 metric tons of material in the first 10 years of commercialization. Microlayered annular co-extruded products can revolutionize their performance and form factor resulting in lower energy and material usage while enabling higher-performing products. Annular extruded products remain mostly simple one-to-five-layer constructions due to limitations in manufacturing. Film and sheet extrusions utilize microlayer coextrusion to create 10-to-1000-layer constructions which enables improvements to strength, fracture toughness, conductivity, barrier properties, optical properties,
and more of extruded end-products. The Phase I study will develop an annular microlayer coextrusion process that can yield 20 layers, a 233%+ improvement over the approximately 6-layer limit industry can do today and allow for improved end-products compared to what existing current annular co--extrusion technology can produce. Microlayer co-extrusion could lead to a 20%+ reduction in material usage when applied to annular extruded end-products. An extrusion die will be designed and manufactured that is capable of creating the necessary product geometries to demonstrate this foundational technology. Trials with various plastic materials will be run to create samples which will be analyzed to ensure commercial suitability of the process. A 20-layer annular coextrusion process can enable improved barrier properties in fuel lines, and in particular hydrogen fuel lines, for which significant demand has been seen in industry today and is a potential first application to be explored in a Phase II study. This would be the first step in bringing microlayered material benefits to annular extruded materials that can result in improved product performance, and material and energy savings for end-product applications across the extrusion industry. This is a foundational technology with a widespread range of uses and industries.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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