SOCAR Polymer’s Chemical Laboratory up and running

With a site footprint of 30 hectares that accommodate 2 polymer production units, a utilities infrastructure, a bagging & packing facility, and a warehouse, the SOCAR Polymer plant site also houses laboratory facilities for testing feedstock (in-process tests) and products (intermediate and final product tests). Incoming feedstock propylene and ethylene will be tested for content to make sure they are polymer-grade, i.e. suitable for use in polymer production, containing acceptable levels of possible impurities such as oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, CO, CO2, ammonia, acetylenes, arsine, methanol, sulfur, water, etc. Propylene will be sampled at different stages: at the entry to the plant – before and after purification/ drying, at the exit of the ethylene stripper and light ends stripper, and after hydrogen is fed to each of the loops. The laboratory shall also check the quality of incoming nitrogen and hydrogen – fresh or purified, the composition of the gas in the gas phase reactor, as well as the outcoming off-gases, treated exhaust oil, fresh mineral oil, and other substances/ compounds involved in the production process. Polymer powder from the Dryer is homogenized and tested for melt flow rate (MFR), particle size distribution (PSD), and for content. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) is used to determine polymers’ thermal transitions which can be utilized to compare materials, although the transitions do not uniquely identify composition. The composition is completed using another technique such as IR spectroscopy. The final polymer products at the SOCAR Polymer plants are produced in the form of pellets, which undergo routine quality tests at the laboratory before delivery. Polymer pellets are then used by our customers to manufacture numerous types of consumer goods, industrial materials, or parts. For instance, the automobile industry produces bumper covers, body side moldings, grilles and various interior parts such as dashboards, consoles and air-bag covers. To meet customer requirements with products of assured and reliable quality, the laboratory operates 24/7 and performs multiple tests that based on a number of verified product characteristics help ensure the quality of our polymers. The laboratory is fully equipped for gas chromatography (GC), mechanical, chemical, and spectroscopic tests. The number of kinds of tests the laboratory is ready to perform totals about 66-70. The list of tests to be conducted on polymer pellets is drawn up depending on polymer type (homo/random/ heco), polymer grade, product designation (for future use in food packaging/medical supplies/automobile parts/etc. manufacturing), method of future processing (compounding/stretching/thermoforming/extrusion/ casting/injection moulding/blow moulding) production period (start up/new production/established production), etc. The laboratory performs certain tests in a planned manner as part of the daily routine, while some tests are upon request.