• Short Summary

    A novel use has been found for a newly developed plastic in West Germany that may have far reaching effects.

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    A novel use has been found for a newly developed plastic in West Germany that may have far reaching effects.

    SYNOPSIS: Europeans familiar with winter sports are quite used to ice skating - indoors and out. But recent developments in West Germany have led to a far reaching innovation, ice-less skating.

    The material used instead of ice was developed at the West German Ruhrchemie concern in the industrial centre of Oberhausen. The material is based on a poly-ethylene product called 'Hostalen'. With the addition of special compounds, the new material is called 'Hostalen G.U.R.'. It has a wide range of uses, but the idea of using it for ice skating rinks was mainly for the novelty. The material has undergone rigorous chemical testing and development.

    The synthetic powder is now being produced by the ton every day. Special machines use high pressure and heat to compress the powder into sheets and various other forms. The formed sheets have an extremely high molecular weight and are extremely dense. The material has high anti-friction characteristics - what the chemical engineers call a high "slip-stick" factor.

    It's this "slip-stick" factor that gives the sheets their application as a base for ice skating. The makers say the most remarkable quality of the new product is a smoothness previously unattainable in synthetics.

    CUE 62 feet 1809 metres 1 min 38 secs.

    The makers say the product will have a great domestic and industrial future.

    So now Oberhausen has the world's first synthetic ice rink. It's value is that there's no ice to melt. No costly expensive ice making plants are needed. These factors would make it ideal for use in hotter countries. The cost at present is 150 dollars per square metre but once it's laid down there's no more expense and can be cleaned with a mop. The material is bullet proof and is also suitable for use a surgical replacement for human bones, since it's lighter and stronger than other substitutes, as well as smoother. It's to resist wear better than steel. As well as ice skating, the makers say it would be ideal also for an artificial skiing slope.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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