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Sabic's fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composite technologies used to construct ICEhouse

News International-French

23 Jan 2017

Composite materials that have opened up a new array of possibilities for designers in diverse industries are taking center stage at the World Economic Forum as part of an innovative structure, combining advanced technologies and design, known as the ICEhouse.

ICEhouse

The iconic structure—constructed in Davos, Switzerland, for the second year—is spearheading Sabic’s efforts to deliver this breakthrough technology to the world, and in doing so promote the architect William McDonough’s concept of the importance of closed-loop, durable carbon systems.

“Through this innovative building, which combines art and engineering, we are exhibiting materials that utilize carbon in a positive way. Sabic solutions can open up a world of new possibilities for designers with their strong, lightweight, and durable properties,” said Yousef Al-Benyan, Sabic Vice-Chairman and CEO. “The impact of these new materials will be felt far beyond the world of architecture, bringing benefits to designers in industries as diverse as electronics, healthcare and aerospace.”

ICEhouse, where ICE stands for Innovation for the Circular Economy, was built using Sabic’s Lexan sheet and systems for the walls, ceiling, roofing and windows. 

This year, Sabic’s new fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composite technologies are used for floor panels and profile structures instead of metal and wood, delivering superior durability, impact performance, and safety with less weight. The cladding is Lexan multi-wall sheet filled with nanogel for outstanding energy efficiency. Thermoplastic composite sandwich floor panels with skins made out of  UDMax GPP 45-70 tape replace plywood being up to 50 percent lighter, with higher abrasion and impact resistance. The thermoplastic composite floor panels do not absorb water and therefore do not decay, increasing safety in use and lifetime of the flooring. Another novelty is the tubular composite structures made with UDMax GPP 45-70 tape, a continuous fibre reinforced polypropylene, which partially replaces aluminium L-shaped profiles with very favourable weight-to-performance ratio.

“These solutions are not just important for ICEhouse. For example, our UDMax tape can be used for aircraft panels or trains.” said Ernesto Occhiello, Executive Vice President, Specialities, SABIC. “What matters to us is working together with architects and designers in the conceptual phase of a project so we can provide them with materials that help them do what they once thought to be impossible. Through technology and material science we can enable them to design to meet the fundamental needs that have a fundamental impact to people—at home, in nutrition, healthcare, communication and transportation.”

Occhiello added: “Given concerns about climate change, it is understandable that carbon has a problematic reputation, but the truth is when carbon is used in a safe way—as it is in ICEhouse—then it can be a tremendous asset. The structure’s materials are superior to their traditional counterparts and much more reusable. This is creating ‘Chemistry that Matters’ for sustainable societies.”

William McDonough, author and sustainability pioneer, and his companies, William McDonough + Partners and WonderFrame LLC designed and built ICEhouse with collaboration and support from Sabic.

The Circular Economy incorporates the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy, developed by William McDonough, incorporating the principles of material health, material reutilization, renewable energy, clean water and social fairness. The Circular Economy utilizes this approach to product design to break the typical take-make-dispose flow of material resources today, replacing it with designs that make use of carbon through products that are inherently recoverable, reusable and recyclable.

Prior to this year’s WEF, ICEhouse was assembled in the Netherlands’ Circular Valley, an initiative to drive the Circular Economy concept by promoting the Cradle to Cradle reuse of building materials.