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Abstract: There is an ever-increasing trend in the wire & cable industry to become more sustainable. There are many different aspects of sustainability. For example, one approach has been incorporation of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic as a partial or complete replacement of the virgin polyethylene resins for fiber optic cable jackets. Previous work has shown that jacketing compounds based entirely on PCR feedstock are known to have wide variability in quality and can be deficient on some key properties such as long-term aging performance. The focus of this work was to evaluate performance and determine feasibility of jacket compounds based on PCR and blends with high quality virgin polyethylene resins.
Blends with virgin polyethylene resin enhanced the mechanical properties and environmental stress crack resistance (ESCR) of the PCR compound for jacket applications. The results from this study found that up to 50 weight percent PCR could be incorporated into virgin polyethylene as in the case with the enhanced resins, and the resulting compound meets most critical telecommunication jacket application requirements. Alternatively, low levels of high performance and quality polyethylene resin could be utilized in a compound of majority PCR to boost the mechanical, ESCR, and thermal aging resistance for certain applications allowing a balance of sustainability by maximizing recycled content and maintaining performance.
About the Presenter: Dr. Paul Brigandi is Application Technology Leader for Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics Wire & Cable business in North America based in Collegeville, PA. Paul has experience in the power transmission and distribution as well as telecommunication markets focused on research and development of new insulation, jacket, conductive composites, and polymer modifier material developments. His technical expertise includes formulation and processing of polyolefins, elastomers, and polymer composites. Paul is active in several industry organizations including Insulated Conductors Committee, Communications Cable and Connectivity Association, and Fiber Broadband Association technical committees. He also serves as 1st Vice President and on the Board of Directors of the Society of Plastics Engineers Palisades-MidAtlantic Section. Paul earned a Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering from Lehigh University and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware. He is also an active Adjunct Professor at Lehigh University in the Material Science & Engineering department.