Review of Interplas 2017

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“Innovation happens here” was the theme of Interplas 2017 which this year housed almost five hundred exhibitors alongside a supporting program of talks on the challenges and innovations in today’s plastics industry. 

Not surprisingly automotive uses and requirements featured prominently in the programme.

Ian Ray, Lead Materials Engineer of JLR opened the speakers’ lineup.

Plastics already make up 20% by weight of a typical JLR vehicle but three megatrends – towards electric propulsion and autonomous control, and away from traditional ownership – offer a big opportunity for this to grow. Ian called for the UK automotive industry to collaborate to keep Britain at the forefront of these trends.

Building on the theme of energy use and echoing JLR’s call for further weight reduction in cars, Mark Ellis, Manager Materials Design and Test at Nissan Europe, also warned that rising energy costs and riskier supply are major challenges for the industry.

The energy theme was continued throughout the conference. After CSS Technology’s seminar on how injection moulders can increase energy efficiency, George Fowkes of BasePower took to the stage in the afternoon to talk about Combined Heat and Power (CHP). Ongoing power price rises are very difficult to pass onto customers and CHP allows plastics manufacturers to make major inroads into energy and emissions savings.

George explained that for most industrial energy users power and heat are is still sourced separately from the grid. Using energy in this way is only around 50% efficient. A well-designed CHP project can be as much as 80-90% efficient, however. This gives an opportunity for major cost and carbon savings.  

George went on to outline recent improvements in generation efficiency, absorption chilling and finance models. Together these are making CHP an attractive option for an ever-wider audience of energy users. He showcased BasePower's recent project at Plastic Omnium Automotive, a Tier 1 supplier of automotive exteriors. The 2MW CHP scheme at Plastic Omnium’s Measham factory supplies power, heat and chill to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions.

Throughout Interplas there was a clear message to automotive and polymer manufacturers to take energy seriously. If you spend £1m or more on energy then the savings from CHP really start to stack up. BasePower is here to help.

(Image supplied courtesy of Interplas)