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Polymer Char was established by Dr. Benjamín Monrabal in 1992 in the Valencia Technology Park in Spain, being registered as Polymer Characterization, S.A.

Its initial goal was to develop a commercial CRYSTAF instrument, a new patented technology developed by Dr. Monrabal at The Dow Chemical Company laboratories to measure the Chemical Composition Distribution in semicrystalline polymers by using only one temperature cycle.

The first CRYSTAF 100 prototype was presented in the Pittsburgh Conference (Pittcon) in 1994 in Chicago, and it was in 1995 when the first unit was acquired by a leading petrochemical company in South Korea.

To count on the most accurate analysis for all its instruments, Polymer Char acquired in 1993 from a leading optoelectronic research center in Scandinavia an Infrared Detection technology fully-dedicated to polyolefin characterization.

Today, practically every petrochemical company in the world counts on the stand-alone Infrared Detector IR4, using it as a concentration and/or composition detector in HT-HPLC techniques such as Size Exclusion Chromatography as for its excellent baseline stability versus the refractive index detectors, traditionally used in GPC instruments.

Consolidated the performance of the CRYSTAF equipment and with an advanced and precise detector for polyolefin analysis, Polymer Char continued developing and marketing new instruments for polyolefin characterization.

In 1996, Polymer Char developed a TREF automated system, as well as PREP mc2 together with a German chemical company, to fractionate polymers by molar mass and by composition.

In 1999, the company launched CRYSTEX, developed in collaboration with a Belgian Polypropylene company to automate the Xylene Solubles measurement, as a fully robust and reliable alternative to traditional gravimetric methods, previously performed in PP laboratories.

In 2005, Polymer Char developed CEF. Being initiated the procedures to obtain the patent one year later, this equipment was based on an innovative crystallization concept to obtain the Chemical Composition Distribution in polyolefins, obtaining the same results than TREF in 10 times shorter.

In the same year, Dr. Monrabal together with Dr. Colin Li Pi Shan, from The Dow Chemical Company and Prof. João Soares, from the University of Waterloo, founded the International Conference on Polyolefin Characterization. Having been favorably held the first edition in Houston in 2006, next editions held in Valencia in 2008 and Shanghai in 2010 were also successfully, where Prof. Minoru Terano, from the Japan Institute of Science and Technology, and Prof. Dujin Wang, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, joined in the Committee in the respective editions. The ICPC Conference, organized by Polymer Char, represents nowadays the meeting-point par excellence for Polyolefin Characterization experts all over the world.

In 2006, Polymer Char designed CFC, according to the request of a prestigious Japanese chemical company to develop a new benchtop and fully automated instrument to perform TREF+GPC in a single process and therefore obtaining the bivariate distribution in 3 dimension plots. With a very good acceptance of this technology received from the industry, the equipment became a commercial product afterwards.

Polymer Char Headquarters in Valencia, Spain.

In 2007, with all the expertise acquired during the previous 15 years in polyolefin analysis together with Dr. Monrabal’s previous experience in GPC, Polymer Char entered in the Molar Mass Distribution industry. GPC-IR was designed to respond to the features that in the last decade were being demanded by Polyolefin GPC Users, such as a separate column oven compartment, automated in-line filtration, no solvent handling, a comprehensive data processing software, and besides Triple Detection, incorporation of an accurate Composition Sensor (IR4 or IR5 MCT). Three years later, GPC-IR was recognized by the Chemical & Engineering News magazine of the American Chemical Society, as one of the 10 most innovative technologies presented at Pittcon in Orlando.

By the end of 2010, Polymer Char had the pleasure of welcoming Dr. Wallace W. Yau as a Scientific Advisor. Since then, Dr. Yau, the most recognized scientist in GPC, has been contributing significantly on the improvement of Polymer Char’s technology.

In the beginning of 2011, Polymer Char entered into a Value-Added Reseller (VAR) Agreement with Agilent Technologies, the global leader measurement company. Polymer Char, has been incorporating Agilent equipments for almost two decades in its final Polyolefin Analysis solutions, to ensure the highest instrument performance and reliability.

In 2012, after having developed a large-scale fractionation equipment for internal use, the PREP C20 was comercially launched as a result of increased interest from several clients. Later that year, a new line of instruments for Quality Control was introduced. The developments of this category aimed to improve the implementation of quality standards in the production of polyolefins since the current methods have serious drawbacks. The first of the line to be launched was CRYSTEX QC, a cutting-edge technology that fully automated the process of obtaining the soluble fraction in polypropylene, commonly performed through wet chemistry or gravimetric methods. This instrument not only came to eliminate all the manual labor in the ananlysis but it gathered much more information proven to be very useful in the production of polypropylene.

In early 2013, Polymer Char reaches a global agreement with The Dow Chemical Company, to become the only authorized licensee to provide instrumentation based on Thermal Gradient Interaction Chromatography (TGIC) and Two- Dimensional Solvent Gradient Interaction Chromatography (SGIC 2D), using carbon-based packings as covered by Dow's patent.

The next year, three new developments in the Quality Control category followed: CRYSTEX 42, sharing the same concept as the first instrument but meant to be used in a QC laboratory rather than a plant, it included an autosampler for a larger capacity of samples. The Intrinsic Viscosity Analyzer, IVA, was the next to be released. As implied in its name, it was created to measure viscosity in highly crystalline polymers that require high temperatures; a solution that had been missing in polyolefin characterization laboratories. The last instrument to be presented that year was GPC-QC, the only high-temperature GPC system attending polyolefin manufacturing plants.

With a very solid and unique portfolio of instruments for polyolefin characterization, in 2015 Polymer Char notably topped the platform of solutions with the introduction of LabAID equipment, a series of devices and accessories carefully made to facilitate the routine operations in the laboratory. Having spent so many years in a polyolefin characterization laboratory, the company's chemists and analysts were well-familiar with the many inconveniences of daily tasks that offer little value to the analytical process and take a lot of time. Thus, in an effort to work in a more efficient manner, several ingenious tools were created. The first to be commercially launched was the External Filtration System, EFS. A compact device that eliminates carbon-black and other residues from samples prior to their analysis, a practice commonly done manually.

A second equipment followed in 2016 with the launch of the Solvent Handling Trolley, SHT. This simple, yet powerful novelty came to solve having to manually manipulate and move large volumes of solvent in the laboratory, one of the most frequent and inconvenient jobs done on a daily basis. It not just made the task easier and faster, but also safer since its air-tight system prevents the release of toxic vapors.

2017 and 2018 mark a special episode in Polymer Char's history as the company is celebrating its 25th year anniversary. Throughout these first 25 years, Polymer Char has played a key role in the development of the majority of the existing technologies for polyolefin analysis, such as CRYSTAF, CRYSTEX, CEF, CFC or GPC with IR detection. With an average annual investment of 30% of its manpower resources dedicated to R&D, and with a strong commitment to continuous improvement and a philosophy of creative thinking, the company plans to continue developing well-rounded solutions attempting to become not just an instrument supplier, but a reliable partner for its customers.

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