Rompetrol Rafinare produces a new type of polypropylene for medical masks

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By Jerom Bolt
Rompetrol Rafinare through its petrochemical division – the only polymer manufacturer in Romania has managed in the last 3 months to successfully develop a new product, a special assortment of polypropylene dedicated to medical masks. It provides the middle layer of the mask, the most important for filtering and protecting against pathogens.
“It is a premiere for Romania and Central and Eastern Europe, a major success of the team of specialists from the Petromidia refinery who managed in just three months to achieve a new vital assortment in support of the fight against COVID-19. Recently, with the support of domestic and international partners, we completed the testing and verification of the new material in accordance with all safety and quality standards, which will go into production in the next period,” says Saduokhas Meraliyev, Chief Operating Officer of KMG International Group – the majority shareholder of Rompetrol Rafinare.
The new apron – RMB30H will be delivered in bags of 25 kilograms of granules and will be used in “meltblown” installations – a conventional method of manufacturing micro-and nanofibers. Thus, the molten/liquid polymer is extruded together with high-speed blowing gas on a support surface, resulting in a nonwoven fiber material. According to the standards in the field, for a surgical mask consumes approximately 1 gram of inner filter material – RMB30H, with a density of 30 grams / square meter.
The first granules of the new product were obtained on July 10 with the support of its strategic partners to align the technical parameters of the production plant and ensure the chemical components – catalysts, additives. Subsequently, it was tested for the first time at the beginning of this month at one of the company’s partners in Romania and later externally, the results being positive.
In the next period, other external and internal tests will follow, at partners such as Taparo Grup Maramureş and Global Treat Galați. The benefits provided by RMB30H include a high filtration capacity of over 98%, a melt flow index of the final product of up to 1,500 grams / 10 minutes depending on the processing temperature, a diameter between 1 – 5 microns for the resulting fibers, but also odorless/odorless – a very important property for protective masks or filtration systems.
RMB30H is intended especially for obtaining filter material, but also for other applications in the area of medical products (protective masks, disposable equipment – sheets, hoods, wet wipes, etc.) or the industrial area (professional filters with high rate of absorption).
“Romania thus becomes an important source in Europe and the region for the supply of the raw materials so necessary for the production of sanitary materials. Together with local partners we can make sanitary materials in Romania and contribute to ensuring the necessary internal, but also to the establishment of a strategic reserve of medical equipment at national and European level “adds Saduokhas Meraliyev.
Currently, Rompetrol Rafinare produces and provides all the necessary types for obtaining sanitary and surgical masks type FFP1 and FFP2, but also medical accessories. The RSB25 (industrial applications), RSB35H and RSB40H (applications in the medical and personal hygiene area) aprons are dedicated for obtaining non-woven material for the outer layers of sanitary materials, and RMB30H for obtaining non-woven material for their inner layer/filtration. Rompetrol Rafinare is the only polymer producer in Romania and provides over half of the domestic consumption of petrochemicals. The aprons developed in recent years have allowed the company to have a competitive position in the regional market (Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Central, and Eastern Europe), which are used in agriculture, food industry, consumer goods, personal hygiene, electronics, electrical engineering, automotive, clothing, and construction. The petrochemical division has an annual capacity of 220,000 tons of polymers through the three production units – polypropylene, low and high-density polyethylene plants. The raw material for the polypropylene plant is provided entirely by the Petromidia refinery, while for the polyethylene plant, the required ethylene is provided from import. To these are added the only marine ethylene discharge terminal in the Black Sea and two cryogenic tanks with a total storage capacity of 20,000 tons (10,000 tons of ethylene and 10,000 tons of propylene).

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