Dow scientists develop a novel polyethylene architecture

This differentiated long-chain branched polyethylene architecture offers asset flexibility and the potential for reduced carbon emissions

Novel polyethylene architecture
Novel polyethylene architecture

MIDLAND, Michigan – March 15, 2024 – Research scientists from Dow (NYSE: DOW) have developed a novel architecture for polyethylene (PE). This differentiated long-chain branched PE offers asset flexibility and the potential for reduced carbon emissions in industry scale polyethylene production. Science recently published a technical paper on this discovery.

"Dow has a bold vision to create the materials and solutions that contribute to addressing global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, and plastic waste while meeting evolving customer needs,” said Stephanie Kalil, Senior Global Business Director, Packaging & Specialty Plastics. “This is a game-changing innovation by Dow’s research & development team that will further strengthen Dow’s industry-leading product portfolio.”

Low density polyethylene (LDPE) was the first plastic developed 90 years ago, and remains the primary material used to incorporate the long-chain branched PE necessary to aid in polymer processing. The development of novel polymer microstructures is of ongoing interest due to the potential for differentiated properties.

Research scientists accomplished this with a unique mechanism where the catalyst has two growing polymer chains on the same metal and a diene couples the chains together in a concerted manner (ladder process). The kinetics of the mechanism allows for favorable operation and the novel PE formed has good processing properties.

The ability to produce long-chain branched PE in different reactor configurations provides greater asset flexibility and the potential for a reduced carbon footprint in industry scale polyethylene production. In addition, the multi-purpose PE could allow downgauging of end use applications, such as packaging, therefore enabling a reduction in material usage and waste avoidance.

“The ladder technology is an example of the unique catalysis and mechanisms that help unlock novel microstructures and differentiated properties,” said Dave Parrillo, Vice President of Research & Development (R&D), Packaging & Specialty Plastics and Hydrocarbons. “This breakthrough will allow Dow to expand the polyethylene design space to create lower carbon emissions, circular, and safer products for packaging, infrastructure, consumer, transportation, and health and hygiene applications.”

This research was led by Robert Froese, Research Scientist, and a team of researchers from Midland, Michigan, Lake Jackson, Texas, and Terneuzen, The Netherlands. This technology showcases Dow’s drive for innovation to achieve our sustainability goals.

More information, including a copy of the paper, can be found online in the Science press package at

About Dow

Dow (NYSE: DOW) is one of the world’s leading materials science companies, serving customers in high-growth markets such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer applications. Our global breadth, asset integration and scale, focused innovation, leading business positions and commitment to sustainability enable us to achieve profitable growth and help deliver a sustainable future. We operate manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employ approximately 35,900 people. Dow delivered sales of approximately $45 billion in 2023. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries. ​​​​Learn more about us and our ambition to be the most innovative, customer-centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world by visiting


For further information, please contact:

Alicia Harpham
Corporate Communications Advisor, Dow

Ben Garbarek
Senior Media Supervisor, Edelman