Face up to corn for environmental impact

05 February 2007 00:00  [Source: ICB Americas]

Cosmetics and personal care products look to corn for green living

FELIZA MIRASOL/NEW YORK

THROUGH THEIR bio-products joint venture, DuPont and Tate & Lyle have developed ingredients made from renewable resources for several new major markets, including cosmetics and personal care.

The companies established the joint venture, DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, in 2004 with the initial intent of using corn for numerous applications, including textile fibers for carpets and clothing, interiors, and for engineered polymers.

The company makes a corn-derived 1,3 propanediol, which offers a significant environmental benefit, according to Ann Wehner, vice president of sales and marketing at DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products.

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"One of the key benefits of using corn-derived 1,3 propanediol is that it uses 40% less energy than petroleum-based product. The reduced environmental impact is quite significant," says Wehner.

The production process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20% versus petroleum-based propanediol. Further, production of 100 million pounds of this corn-derived 1,3 propanediol at a Loudon, Tenn., plant will save the equivalent of 13.5 million gallons of gasoline per year, "enough to fuel 24,000 cars annually," according to DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products.

Strong platform

Tate & Lyle's experience in using plant-based sources for both food-grade and industrial ingredients offered a strong platform for both partners in establishing the joint venture. In the last decade, Tate & Lyle established a core competency in fermentation technology and is currently one of the world's major fermentation producers.

The company transforms raw materials such as corn, wheat and sugar into ingredients for the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, paper, packaging and building industries. The joint venture uses a proprietary fermentation process developed in conjunction with DuPont.

"The Loudon manufacturing site that was selected for the joint venture is one of Tate & Lyle's corn wet-milling plant facilities," says Wehner.

Last November, DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products launched the first commercial shipments of its Bio-PDO trademark 1,3 propanediol from the Loudon facility, the first in the world to manufacture this bio-based product, according to the company.

"We offer different grades of the 1,3 propanediol. For example, we offer two brands, Susterra and Zenmea, which go into different applications. Susterra propanediol can be used in antifreeze, de-icing and heat-transfer applications," according to Wehner.

The art of Zenmea

"Zenmea propanediol is very pure and is specifically targeted for the cosmetics and personal care markets. We also have a grade of Zenmea that can be used in detergents," says Wehner.

There has been strong demand for all grades of Bio-PDO, according to DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products. The joint venture has seen demand grow based on the product's performance, biodegradable nature, and ability to replace petroleum-derived products.

Benefits to cosmetic and personal care product formulators using Zenmea product include high-purity, low irritation and low sensitization, Wehner notes. The ingredient serves a variety of functions in cosmetics and personal care. For example, it serves as an emollient, humectant, hand-feel modifier, or solvent. It has already been incorporated successfully into anionic oil-in-water emulsion, clear shampoo, and opaque body wash formulations.

A trend toward all-natural ingredients continues to grow in tandem with the world's increasing demand for products from renewable resources. Specifically, demand is growing for such products that match or exceed the functionality offered by petroleum-based products, note industry observers.

The launch of the first commercial shipment of Bio-PDO represents a milestone not only for the joint venture, but also for progress towards achieving renewable bioproducts for the environment.

Meanwhile, the global market for cosmetics and personal care ingredients is expected to grow at about 5%/year through 2010. In 2005, the market was estimated at $14.7 billion, according to Norwalk, Conn.-based BCC Research (formerly Business Communications Company) in a recent market report on cosmetics and toiletries.

"Factors contributing to this steady growth include improvements in the global economy, particularly in developing countries, and the introduction of new consumer-friendly products," states BCC.

In addition, significant changes are also occurring in the different constituents that make up the markets for ingredient manufacturers, such as advances in delivery systems for cosmetic and personal care formulations, newer manufacturing methods, and advances in the science and development of new materials.

A recent example of innovation in the cosmetics area is Munich, Germany-based Wacker Fine Chemicals' novel linoleic acid/cyclodestrin complexes, which represent a new way to deliver linoleic acid in skin care formulations.

Wacker Fine Chemicals, the biotech and fine chemicals division of the Wacker Group, has developed an a-cyclodextrin/linoleic acid complex, a novel component for skin-care products. The linking of linoleic acid with cyclodextrins creates a stabilized active ingredient that allows for the use of linoleic acid in its original form, a method unavailable until now.

"This opens up the possibility for the first time of using linoleic acid in many different cosmetic formulations and personal care products," says Wacker.

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