November 17, 2010 Share NEW YORK – In a ceremony during its Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City last week, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) presented its inaugural Industrial Research and Development Award to the “Shuttle Crew” at the Dow Chemical Company’s Freeport, Texas, facility for discovering a new mechanism for polymerization and creating unique new polymers. The new award recognizes individuals or teams working in the industries served by chemical engineers for innovation that has resulted in the successful commercial development of new products or new processes for making useful processes. In presenting the award, Robert Davis, chair of the AIChE Awards Committee and a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, described how the team was able to create new polymers by modifying existing plant reactors. Daniel J. Arriola, principal research scientist in Dow’s modeling and materials science group, accepted the award on behalf of Dow. The award-winning work focused on olefin block copolymers, which have “hard” (ethylene rich) and “soft” (olefin rich) segments, and are considered difficult to produce. Dow’s team combined two single-site catalysts with different reactivity ratios in a single reactor, and added a chain-shuttling agent to transfer chains between the two catalysts. In this way, one of the catalysts makes the hard segments, and the other produces the soft segments. This solution allows the production of olefin block copolymers with desired properties under commercially attractive conditions. Davis explained that many consider Dow’s olefin block copolymers to have a competitive edge over other specialty elastomers, both in enhanced properties and reduced production costs. In addition, these polyolefins, being composed of only carbon and hydrogen, have a relatively low environmental impact compared to other elastomers on the market. Download ReleaseAbout AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 40,000 chemical engineers in 92 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.