OXSOFT L9TM replacing C8C10 trimellitates

Stable availability and performance are key requirement for plasticizers used in automotive applications. Globally there is plenty of plasticizer capacity available. However some key raw materials do have structural limitations.

Linear alcohols in general and linear alcohols of chain length 8 and 10 in specific do have availability constraints. Both the natural as well as petrochemical derived alcohols are not produced on purpose. They are part of a stream and can even be considered as byproducts. For the current producers the 8 and 10 chain length linear alcohols are not their main goal, they will not adapt the output of those alcohols if demand changes. Their main driver are other higher chain length alcohols and therefore there is a structural misconnect between supply and demand.
OXEA recognized this structural misconnect and launched on purpose produced linear 9 alcohols. This product, n-nononal, can replace the mix of linear 8 and 10 alcohols one to one, and can also replace linear 8 alcohols.

The ester made of this product in turn can replace the trimellitates of C8C10 alcohols. Both the alcohol and the ester are globally available. This offers our customers a dedicated source with plenty of capacity. Although that testing can take significant time in automotive applications we are seeing good results and the performance of the linear 9 trimellitate is similar as the C8C10 trimellitate.

TOTM on Corap: Where does it stand now?

TOTM/TEHTM (Trioctyl trimellitate, or tris(2-ethylhexyl)trimellitate) is a non-migrating plasticizer with excellent elevated temperature properties. In every application where migration is a concern, TOTM can limit these concerns due to its permanent character. Most commonly applied areas are medical devices, cables and wires. TOTM is also beloved for automotive and in-house applications due to its outstanding fogging and non-VOC properties.

TOTM was first added to the Corap list in 2012 under the REACH substance evaluation program. The purpose is to evaluate TOTM against defined criteria of PBT – Persistence, Bioaccumulation and Toxicology. OXEA is an active member of the consortium that plans and executes the process in response to relevant requests by REACH, and here is a status update on where TOTM stands:

  • Persistence:
    • The available studies have shown no indication of bio-degradation in water. The substance has a very low water solubility and its behavior in soil or sediment would be more relevant with respect to persistence.
    • Next step: Examiners are therefore looking at signs of persistence in sediment (OECD 308). However, current measures in sediment presented technical problems and new solutions need to be found.
  • Bioaccumulation:
    • A study on freshwater fish ((Bioaccumulation: Test for the Degree of Bioconcentration in Fish) demonstrated a very low potential of bioaccumulation. There still exist conflicting indications from simulation models that TOTM may be bioaccumulative.
    • Next step: Further analysis may be required, depending on the outcome of the sediment simulation.
  • Toxicology:
    • No adverse effect was observed in mammalian or aquatic species.
    • Toxicological concerns are out of the running.

It can be clearly concluded, that TOTM does not meet PBT criteria, but in order to come to a conclusion on vPvB-criteria, better data on persistence and potentially bioaccumulation in non-aqueous environmental compartments are required.

Plastics and medical devices – technical properties in a historical perspective

Content contributed by Tobias Johnsen, MA, writer of PVC Med Alliance.

Imagine a world without plastics.

The computer on your desktop, the TV on your wall and the credit card in your wallet would not exist. The car you drive would weigh more and have worse mileage, and though your smartphone may have an exterior made of glass and metal, plastics make up the lion’s share of the interior. Yet important as these consumer goods have seemingly become in our tech-crazed lives, there is one area where plastics are truly critical: in medical devices.

Humans have used medical devices for thousands of years. Metal was the principal material for the first long stretch of history as it served a wide range of purposes, including surgical instrument, dental implants and steel plates. In the beginning of the 20th century, growing demand for health care and in turn more sophisticated devices led to the discovery of new materials. Strong and heat-resistant, ceramics has primarily found use in orthopedics and dental and bone implants after being introduced in the 1930s. Closely related, glass has mainly been used for bone replacement, storage, vials and tubing. Yet the push toward better health care technology did not end there. Scientists begun experimenting with plastics in the late 18th century, but it wasn’t until the production techniques were refined by the middle of the 20th century that the material took hold and in effect revolutionized health care. Today, plastics reign supreme in the world of medical devices.

Tobias Johnsen has explained in detail several advantages of PVC and Plastic for medical devices. He particularly looks in the following perspetives:

  • Flexibility and endless design possibilities
  • Chemical resistance and safety
  • Sanitation – a constant challenge
  • The role of PVC

The complete article is available here.

Plastics and medical devices

2014 Product Leadership Award – Why OXEA?

After Frost & Sullivan today officially announced OXEA to be the recipient of the 2014 Product Leadership Award for its non-phthalate plasticizers, we have received applauses and congratulations from our industry customers. This is a significant recognition of what OXEA has accomplished – so, how did we make it actually?

According to Frost & Sullivan, “OXEA has demonstrated commitment to differentiation and competence in the European plasticizers market. Product quality, performance, and reliability are key areas where the company has excelled.

As continuously reported on our blog, we monitor the industry trends extremely closely and adapt our effort to always focus on what’s needed by the industry. Most importantly, our continuous product development efforts have been recognized by our customers.

This is also the reason why Frost & Sullivan stressed, “OXEA’s relentless customer-centric approach in all activities from product development to product delivery and service, coupled with its backward integration into raw material manufacturing and ensuring timely delivery of products to customers has propelled the company to the forefront of European plasticizers market.

Receiving the award means that we have achieved one of the several milestones and are being recognized. It also means that we must continue the efforts around R&D, quality enhancement and customer satisfaction assurance, in order to continuously excel and prove our true competencies.

For more information on this leadership award, please click here.

Frost and Sullivan









DOA/DEHA on the CoRAP: What’s the status now?

DOA or DEHA (Dioctyl/Bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate) is a commonly used plasticizer and also applied in lubricants, glue, scotch-tape, and sealants. Because DOA is identified as potential alternative for phthalates, its use in plastics continues to increase in the EU, and this growth will be at an even faster pace after four phthalates (BBP, DEHP, DBP, DIBP) become subject to authorization in 2015.

DOA was first added to the Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP*) list in 2013 with 2015 as the initial due year of evaluation which has been subsequently extended to 2017.

Ongoing, new studies on DOA are undertaken under REACH, e.g. a recently finished OECD 414 on rabbit demonstrates absence of developmental effects even in a second species. The existing and new scientific evidence on DOA shows the concerns behind the original nomination to be less critical, which likely is reflected in the change of prioritization of the CoRAP.

The consortium was also setting in motion all the things one could reasonably do to prepare for the beginning of the CoRAP. Together with the other registrants, we have drawn up preliminary plans on how to deal with the CORAP until its expected “hot phase” in 2017 on order to have the best possible scientific data available for the Finnish authorities.

Based on the available data we firmly believe that the final conclusions of the EU substance evaluation program will confirm the evaluation reached by the registrants today.

Dr. Günther Becker
Director, Product Stewardship und Quality Management, OXEA GmbH

*CoRAP is a list of chemicals that have been proposed by EU Member States for evaluation as to whether classification as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) is justified.

2014 Review

The year 2015 started with raw materials falling further and is making a much different entry as 2014 did. Last year was a challenging year for the plasticizer industry. Raw material prices rose sharply last year and the competitve situation did not allow for the plasitcizer producers to move prices upwards as much as the raw materials did require. Hence, all the plasticizer suppliers did see significant margin reduction. For one product, DOTP, at least the total market did grow significantly. Where the total EU market for DOTP was only 10kt in 2009, the marketsize is estimated between 100 and 150kt end of 2014.
Also in the USA DOTP did grow significantly. DINP was listed to Californian’ Act 65.
Although this is not a ban at all, it did create a lot of uncertainty and made customers move to DOTP. Actually Act 65 is “only” a right to know law, it is not a restriction, not even close. Still we saw DOTP growing in both USA and Asia because of all the confusion it created.
Also in 2014 the Danish EPA presented a list with alternatives for DOP in medical applications. Numerous plasticizers where reviewed like DOTP, TOTM and DOA. The full Report can be found in the “plasticizer news” section on this website.
One of the positive things in 2014 was that demand seemed to be solid. Prices did fluctuate but it was clearly seen that customers felt confident enough to place orders well in advance. This was a big improvement compared to 2013 and shows actually how solid the underlying demand is. This positive development is also seen in the early days of 2015. Even with prices falling significantly, customers do order well in advance and there is no panicking of having too high inventories. This can only be understood when the underlying demand is truyl solid. And that should make sure we at least can have a positive feeling about the start of 2015!

Continuous battle against DEHP drives demand for alternative plasticizers for PVC in medical

Early this month, Denmark proposed four phthalates to be identified as substances of very high concern (SVHCs) for their endocrine disrupting properties for human health and the environment. Member State Committee subsequently agreed that the endocrine disrupting properties of DEHP indeed cause concern for the environment. With the series of activities that Denmark has embarked on, including its earlier decision to defy EU with planned ban on phthalates, DEHP is a substance that is being regularly challenged. This trend has further deepened and will continue on.

It is without a doubt that DEHP has been in use for many decades and has a long standing role in flexible PVC for articles used in the medical field. With the unparalleled benefits it provides, PVC is also proven to be the most suitable material for medical uses and in many cases simply irreplaceable (i.e. uses in manufacturing blood bags and medical tubes). PVC Med Alliance, an alliance of the PVC medical industry chain, has recently launched a factsheet, 10 key reasons to choose PVC in healthcare applications, which summarizes the unique advantages realized by the PVC material. This also explains why finding a suitable alternative plasticizer is extremely critical – alternative plasticizers are the solution to enable the continued utilization of PVC while staying compliant with regulations and fulfilling the changing consumer demand.

iv bag hanging on a metal poleRegulatory pressures sometimes outweigh objectively justified scientific evidences and economic benefits. Once a substance of concern is broadcasted by the media, consumers will seek for alternatives, forcing the industry to quickly adopt the change. Accordingly, in the last decade, demand for alternative plasticizers used in medical manufacturing, such as TOTM (trioctyl trimellitate) and DOTP/DEHT (dioctyl terephthalate), has shown significant growth and at a fast pace. I believe this replacement movement, especially in Europe, will be at an even faster speed in the upcoming years. And that’s why we keep looking for and introducing new alternatives.

Critical aspects of plasticizer production (cont’d): Quality + Safety = Priority

All parts of our plant infrastructure are carefully and regularly inspected, especially for issues that can compromise the production. The reactor and the filtration system are the important parts of the plant needing regular inspection.

Speaking of incident management – if an incident might occur, there is an emergency plan in place. All our employees at the plant are informed, trained and well-prepared for timely and professional reaction to incident situations. The shift lead-operator will have the responsibility of managing the incident onsite. He can decide to solve the problem himself or to scale-up to management, depending on the severity of the situation. Outside help can also be called upon if needed, including the fire department, medical assistance (i.e. ambulances) or support from the main office in Oberhausen.

Although we keep preparing for any situation, I am proud to say that our plant in Amsterdam is free of any notifiable incident for 13 years!

oxea plant amsterdam

Like most chemical companies, a lot of focus is given to improving the efficiently of our production. This includes reduction of waste streams and energy.

Waste products at the Amsterdam Ester Plant come from different sources, including the raw materials themselves (i.e. packaging), the processes (i.e. filtration of additives) and minor waste, such as laboratory waste. All of our waste is handled by an official waste disposal company and depending on its nature, it can be either recycled, such as pallets and bags, or used during the production of energy .

Regarding waste water treatment – water is first treated in a specialized part of the plant. There, process water is separated from insoluble liquids. Sequentially, the water is pumped to the municipal water treatment facility in Amsterdam. There the water is cleaned similar to the normal household waste water.

Within the 2 blog series I’ve shared some of the critical components of my work. Of course, there are other interesting projects, such as finding ways to improve and increase production capacity, the introduction of new products and other strategic topics to guarantee a bright future for the Amsterdam Ester Plant. I’d definitely like to share some more personal experience and knowledge in the near future!

Critical aspects of plasticizer production: a plant manager’s perspective

As the plant manager of OXEA’s Amsterdam Ester Plant, I have high safety standards, excellent product quality and availability as my top priorities. Most of our esters are sold as plasticizers. Depending on the business, industrial and technical requirements of our customers, there are various quality requirements that our plasticizers must meet.

In my routine, production meetings are carried out to discuss and review critical topics on a regular basis. As many people are curious about how those topics are handled, as an ester plant manager, I thought this is a perfect opportunity to share some parts of my work on this blog.

Let me start with the topic of product quality – Ensuring product quality is of extreme importance as it is necessary to deliver product excellence to the consumers. Therefore, we have a standard procedure in place to ensure product quality. Let me shed some lights on the daily quality control process:

The quality of the raw materials arriving on-site is checked the moment they are delivered. These materials are then stored until needed in the production. Once the production has started, the operator takes check samples at different time points throughout the process. This is mainly to understand the progress of the reaction.

When reaching the product specification, the reaction is stopped and the reactor is cooled down. Other aspects, such as colour improvement and solid removal, are done in the second stage of the production. The end product is then stored in a Quality Control tank. Samples of the final product are taken and sent to a certified independent laboratory that checks whether the material is within required specifications. After all these steps, the product is ready to be sold.

One thing worthwhile to mention is that our plant is certified for, ISO 9001: 2008 quality management system, ISO 14001: 2009 environment system and meets HACCP standards. Of course, quality assurance is only a part of my responsibility. I would like to continue the blog later on to cover more topics, such as safety, incident and waste management.

PVC & plasticizers for healthcare

Yesterday, the members of PVC Med Alliance were again grouped in Brussels to review activities for advocating PVC’s contribution to healthcare, including an ongoing PVC recycling project in hospitals in the UK. I am glad to be a part of the team and to see the continuous enthusiasm and engagement of the industry experts, coming together to discuss critical issues and encourage more PVC sustainability projects.

The use of PVC in healthcare has a long standing position in history. Because DEHP, a phthalate used in PVC, has raised increasing concerns, the recent conference in Denmark, “Alternatives to classified phthalates in medical devices,” was conducted to discuss alternatives for DEHP. In the closing remarks, the necessity of presence of PVC is well-recognized because of the favorable properties that PVC offers. It is undoubtedly that PVC will continue to play a key role in medical treatments and suitable alternatives to DEHP are required.

Thanks to PVC Med Alliance for its diligence in advocacy. Aside from better educating the industrial and general audience the value of PVC, it is also a part of our mission to closely monitor the changing world of regulations. This includes regulations concerning PVC and plasticizers across different industries. We have done so and will continue to update this blog & the plasticizer news, sharing key regulatory movements!


PVC & Plasticizers: What, Where & Why