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BTG, the global technology commercialization company, announced on 19 January that it has granted British Petroleum (BP) exclusive worldwide rights to a patent portfolio known as “Hot Compaction.” Using this technology, BP will be able to manufacture a new generation of formable, self-reinforced and lightweight thermoplastic composites targeted at a plastics automotive market thought to be over $10 billion. The technology came from several years of research conducted by a team of three scientists at the University of Leeds; Professor Ian Ward, Dr. Peter Hine and Mr. Keith Norris. Recognizing its commercial potential, BTG acquired the technology, funded the initial development, and filed patents worldwide, which ensured fast-track development for Vantage Polymers, an incubation company set up to develop the technology further. “BTG’s expertise in constructing water-tight patents allowed us not only to derive value from the technology, but also to harness the innovation of the manufacturing process,” said Professor Ian Ward. BP is making significant investment and expects their first production line to be fully commissioned in 2001 at its Gronau, Germany site, and potential customers are already being targeted. In addition to interior and exterior car components, the Hot Compaction composite has many applications, including packaging, consumer goods, building materials and protective gear for sports. The additional feature of radar translucency has a potential application for the aerospace and defense industry. The product provides a superior alternative to many conventional materials, as it is made out of one material, polypropylene, and is fully thermoplastic. http://www.btgplc.com. Since the agreement was made, but before it was public, it has also been announced that BP is looking to sell is plastic fabrications and fibres operations (which currently includes the self-reinforced composites operation) for an estimated GBP 400m, as part of a strategy to focus its chemicals business on petrochemical intermediates
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