This summer, Japan chemical company Teijin plans to fully commercialize its BIOFRONT plastic, a stereo-complex polylactic acid (PLA) made with high-purity L-lactate and D-lactate which was introduced in 2007. Teijin says one of BIOFRONT's noteworthy characteristics is its melting point of 210°C, a significant improvement over the 170°C melting point of conventional PLAs. At 210°C, BIOFRONT could rival that of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), a commonly heat-resistant plastic made from oil.
Teijin currently is operating a BIOFRONT pilot plant with an annual capacity of 200 tons. Last year, the company acquired Toyota Motor Corporation's PLA demonstration plant with an approximate 1,000-ton capacity. The new facility is expected to be manufacturing BIOFRONT by the summer of 2009, moving the company closer to the start of mass production.
Teijin says activities are underway to complete a system for mass producing BIOFRONT at the 10,000-ton level in 2010, including research into how to use various non-edible bioresources.
Teijin is also exploring possibilities for the chemical recycling of used PLA products.