S.R.Tan, and A. Bos
Development in Plastic Materials # 2004 Milan
PVC has become the world’s most versatile thermoplastic, with a wider range of uses than any other plastic material. PVC products deliver substantial performance benefits, making it the material of choice in many applications and sectors of our modern society.
In the past, PVC products have been selected against competition from other materials because they provide the most cost-effective solution – thus PVC has made a positive contribution to socio-economic development for the last 50 years.
The demand for PVC has increased continuously in line with social development. Today, worldwide consumption is approaching 30 million tons per annum (1) and global growth is expected to be more than 4 % per annum. A significant proportion of this growth will be in PVC pipes, which make up about 27% of the market for PVC in Europe (2). In spite of strong competition from other polymers, PVC continues to dominate the global market for plastics pipes. In Europe, PVC use in pipes is 1.5 million tonnes.
This dominance has been achieved through the continuous evolution and improvement of the processes used for the manufacture of PVC pipes, starting from monomer production and going right through polymer manufacture to the processes that are used to make the pipes themselves.
These improvements have led to increased quality, consistency and productivity at all stages, whilst energy and water consumption have been reduced as have emissions from the VCM, PVC and pipe factories, thus improving sustainability.
Conventional PVC-U pipe systems are well used, mainly in the sewage, potable water and drainage sectors where they have successfully replaced traditional materials. In recent years, a number of PVC innovations have led to significantly improved economics and have guaranteed an even more safe operation of pipelines. This paper gives an overview of the performance and potential of these PVC innovations to further replace traditional materials and to open up new application sectors. Based on positive experiences it is expected that they will gain further market share and will also successfully penetrate into countries and applications where they are not present up to date.