Polymer Science and Testing

    Nexus, the independent research company within Palsgaard, conducts scientific studies to continuously optimize our products’ functionalities, quality and cost-performance.
    Close collaboration and exchange with our business units and customers enable the identification of most relevant and most interesting research topics and product development approaches.

    The systematic study of structure-properties relationships, conducted in our physical chemistry and application technology laboratory, results in insights and inspiration for optimization of products and production processes by our synthesis group. The innovation process is strongly supported by our analysis group, investigating reaction mechanisms, characterizing final products and controlling product quality.

    Bio-based and food-grade functional agents
    – A modular approach

    All our functional agents are derived from plant oils by applying fatty acid ester chemistry (interesterification and direct esterification). The use of this chemistry for the production of food-grade emulsifiers has been invented by Palsgaard a century ago. Still today it offers literally unlimited opportunities to optimize functional agents for particular uses in the food industry and other industries. This is due to the modular character of this chemistry, allowing optimal molecular design of fatty acid esters by systematic variation of:

    • Fatty acid types (e.g. saturated and unsaturated, functionalized)
    • Fatty acid chain lengths and chain length distribution (e.g. by using different plant oil sources)
    • Alcoholic backbones (e.g. glycerol, polyglycerol, propylene glycol, sorbitan, etc.)
    • Degree of esterification
    • Blends of such fatty acid esters

    The molecular design of functional agents allows variation of properties over wide ranges. These properties include, among others, hydrophilic, hydrophobic, wetting, dispersing, lubricating properties, molecular weight, crystallization, thermal, migratory, antistatic, antifogging and rheological properties.

    Functional agents for the polymer industry

    The targeted main functionalities of our functional agents for the polymer industry are lubrication, antistatic and antifogging properties, as well as rheological and dispersing properties. Our application technology laboratory offers a large variety of processes and methods for the systematic development and evaluation of such agents. These include:

    • pilot scale polymer compounding and extrusion, injection moulding, 
    • cast and blown film production
    • application testing and characterization of surface friction, static decay time, surface resistivity, antifogging, rheological and mechanical properties

    In addition, combinations of advanced analytical methods can be applied for kinetic migration studies. As migration is the combination of polymer additive diffusion and partition at the polymer surface, kinetic parameters and changes of the additive’s conformation at the polymer surface play a crucial role for its performance.  

    For instance, correlating FT-IR data (indicating intramolecular hydrogen bonding) with surface free energy data (derived from contact angle measurements) enabled the development of a novel additive blend, which combines excellent short- and long-term antistatic performance.