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Borealis launches ADCA-free compound for telecommunications cables

Chemically-foamed, high density polyethylene grade free of azodicarbonamide

Borealis announced the global commercial launch of HE1355, a high density polyethylene (HDPE) grade free of azodicarbonamide (ADCA). The company claims it is the world’s first chemically-foamed, ADCA-free material intended for the production of telecommunications cables.

This launch builds on the Borealis track record in the Wire & Cable segments. Borealis says that the use of HE1355 allows cable manufacturers to bypass altogether any issues arising from the planned inclusion of ADCA on the EU’s Annex XIV of REACH (“Authorisation List”). Thus, cable manufacturers can rely on being able to maintain seamless production, irrespective of any potential disruption caused by legislative changes, the company assures.

The chemical compound ADCA is principally used as a blowing agent in the production of foamed plastics. At present, it is classified as a Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) by the European Chemicals Agency. However, it has recently been recommended for inclusion in the Annex XIV of REACH, the so-called “Authorisation List.” Inclusion on this list would require producers, converters, and other downstream users to seek special temporary permission for the use of this substance in production. Given the continued growth of the cable sector due to digitalisation, such an action may have adverse effects on the global supply chain.

Borealis says it has anticipated the potentially disruptive effects to the cable industry by creating the new HDPE compound - HE1355.

The manufacturer guarantees that HE1355 is free of ADCA and all other SVHCs, while matching the technical performance of other chemically foamed HDPE grades currently on the market. Borealis claims that it combines the advantages of its predecessors - HE1345 and HE1344 - such as processability, stabilization, and the requisite toughness for fast multi-pair assembly.

The company explains that the cell structure of HE1355 makes it suitable for applications such as foam or foam-skin insulation for telephone singles and data cables with a typical expansion of 35%-40%, as well as for dry core and petroleum jelly-filled cables. The new compound was successfully tested in a series of customer trials before its global launch in 2019, the manufacturer informs.

“In developing HE1355, Borealis has gone beyond compliance to offer our customers an innovative and high-performing solution that allows for a seamless transition from existing grades to a new and improved one,” explains Bart Verheule, Borealis Head of Marketing, Energy. “Going ADCA-free with HE1355 is a win-win all around. It not only future-proofs cable producers from the effects of a potential ADCA ban, but also allows us to help them bring energy all around.”

Borealis provides polyolefin compounds for the global energy industry in applications ranging from submarine and land cable projects to power transmission and distribution a with comprehensive portfolio for medium and low voltage cable applications, as well as high-performance polypropylene (PP) capacitor film solutions for the entire energy sector. Extra-high, high voltage AC and DC, and medium voltage applications are powered by Borlink technology while the Visico technology helps extend the lifetime of cable systems for low and medium voltage applications, Borealis says. To meet safety standards for industries and buildings sustainably, Borealis also offers a low smoke and zero halogen flame retardant system. Borealis compounds also help meet network provider’s requirements for communication cables, namely fibre optic, data, copper multipair and coaxial cables.

Borealis is a provider of solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With its head office in Vienna, Austria, the company currently has around 6,800 employees and operates in over 120 countries. Borealis generated EUR 8,3 billion in sales revenue and a net profit of EUR 906 million in 2018. Mubadala, through its holding company, owns 64% of the company, with the remaining 36% belonging to Austria-based OMV, an integrated, international oil and gas company. Borealis provides services and products to customers around the world in collaboration with Borouge, a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).

Source: Borealis