Centre for Performance Applications

Next-gen R&D for rapid resin and applications design

NOVA Chemicals’ Centre for Performance Applications (CPA) is dedicated to polyethylene applications development work for rigid and flexible markets. Located in Calgary, Alberta, the Centre features state-of-the art extrusion, conversion, molding and test equipment that replicates customers’ manufacturing methods and application performance under real-world conditions. Expert engineers, scientists, and technologists perform the critical work to improve today’s applications and even reimagine how PE resins are used.

Flexible Film Applications

Production

Film structures are becoming more complex to meet the changing demands of consumers and brand owners. Our film lines allow our technical experts to produce trial structures for in-house conversion and testing. We have several film production lines, including the first 9-layer blown film line installed by a major supplier in North America:

  • 9-layer blown film line
  • 3-layer blown and cast film lines
  • Three monolayer blown film lines

Conversion

The Centre has a range of semi-commercial and commercial scale converting equipment that replicates our customers’ manufacturing capabilities. From trash bags to pre-packed sandwich trays, we can create prototypes for testing that allow our customers to understand how their products will perform in-real world applications. 

  • Slitter/rewind station
  • Adhesive laminator
  • Shrink tunnel
  • Vertical form fill seal (VFFS)
  • Stand up pouch maker (HFFS) 
  • Thermoformer

Testing 

Our test lab technologists ensure packaging and goods meet required specifications to perform in-use. We have several in-house labs with a comprehensive array of industry standard and in-house customized film and resin test equipment:  

  • Physical resin and film characterization
  • Package testing
  • Analytical

Rigid Applications

Caps and Closures

End to end applications development support, from discovery to commercialization. We work closely with our customers to understand emerging needs in the closures market, which drives our resin and applications development work. The Centre has all the equipment – and expertise – needed to help our customers develop new polyethylene closures for water, carbonated soft drink, hotfill and more. 

A SACMI compression molder and Sumitomo Demag injection molding press replicate caps and closures’ manufacturing processes, while our state-of-the-art dedicated closures lab features an advanced a suite of industry-leading “in-use performance” equipment to measure performance under real-world conditions. We follow the International Society of Beverage Technologist (ISBT) standard testing methods and have proprietary testing methods and equipment as well. Exclusive simulation capabilities and advanced material models streamline the qualification process for new closures or resins.

When we identify the need for entirely new test equipment, we’re known to create it ourselves. Such was the case with a hinge tester for polyethylene closures. Eliminating the need for manual input, our hinge tester can run continuously to test cap fatigue performance, allowing us to gauge how well the hinge will perform in the consumer’s home. 

Rotomolding

The applications work we do for the rotomolding market helps our customers understand how to improve part reliability and quality, process control, and cycle times. Some of the experimentation, testing and assessment that takes place at the Centre is for the Association of Rotational Molding for the holistic advancement of the industry. Our work is supported by a range of equipment including:

  • Ferry rotational molder, a three-arm independent carousel machine, featuring upgrades for infrared temperature sensing and a drop-box for two-layer and mixed material parts
  • A variety of testing instruments, including high-speed impact data acquisition and additives analysis
  • ORENDA Airforce grinder for commercial quality grinding of small batches

Success Stories

Tetra Pak®, the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company, recently launched the innovative Tetra Evero® Aseptic, the world’s first aseptic carton bottle. The package is made with a polyethylene neck, but when it was in development, Tetra Pak had searched for some time for a PE with the properties required for enriched dairy alternatives, flavored milks, and toddler and baby milk. Then they learned about NOVA Chemicals’ SURPASS® HPs667-AB resin, an HDPE with superior stiffness and unmatched barrier performance, critical for the Tetra Evero Aseptic.

Experts from NOVA Chemicals’ Centre for Performance Applications and Centre for Applied Research worked closely with the Tetra Pak team to qualify HPs667-AB resin, and helped ensure that the resin’s barrier properties were retain throughout a complex, unique production process and the use of pigmented resins. 

“By collaborating with Tetra Pak throughout the project, together we ultimately brought a better-performing product to market.” said Mike Cappelli, Market Manager for food packaging at NOVA Chemicals Polyethylene Business at the time of the work. “This project is a great example of the product innovation and collaborative applications development work we do that helps our customers succeed in the marketplace.”

The stand-up pouch is one of the fastest growing package types, used in a wide variety of applications including dry foods, frozen foods, liquids, confectionery, pet foods and many non-food items. Now, experts at the Centre for Performance Applications have helped to make it more recyclable through structure redesign. 

We have developed two PE-based recyclable multilayer film structure designs, or “recipes”, for use in the stand-up pouch format as well as other flexible package types such as the pillow pouch and flow wrapper. One offers moisture barrier, and the other both oxygen and moisture barrier performance. Both base recipes are compatible with #2 HDPE recycling streams (in the US), while retaining the performance, processability and cost-competitiveness of existing, non-recyclable mixed-material structures.

Come work with us!

Our Centre for Performance Applications serves as an innovation hub where customers can work with NOVA Chemicals’ experts to generate new ideas and applications. Expansive areas are dedicated to collaborative work including ideation sessions, workshops, and trial evaluations.