The bioplastic industry strengthened its presence at last week’s international plastic and rubber trade show “K” held every four years in Germany.
There had been several announcements from major plastic producers at the show and one of them the blog already reported about Braskem’s plans to build a sugarcane-based polypropylene. Here is a video from the K Show organizers as they interview Braskem VP Riu Chammas on their green plastic.
Another big news is Belgium-based Solvay announcing its partnership with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical (MGC) on the development of high performance castor oil-based polyamides. The plastic is expected to be among the highest temperature bio-based polyamides in the industry with a heat deflection temperature of approximately 270°C for glass-filled compounds, according to Solvay.
Solvay and MGC are currently working together to develop an optimized manufacturing process for the new polymer. MGC said it has filed numerous patents to cover its extensive development work in resin composition, production, and applications.
The multi-year development project will examine market viability, commercial scale-up, and capital planning.
At the show, Mitsubishi Engineering Plastics, meanwhile, launched its own bio-based resin called Reny®SRH0101, a high heat-resistance polyamide for injection molding materials that was newly created by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical. Mitsubishi said they plan to expand the resin in various grades.
In a K-show related news, Solvay featured the importance of plastic in the development of solar-powered planes, which were exhibited at the show. Really cool!
The blog also previously talked about Toyota Tshusho’s bio-PET plans in Taiwan. At the show, Toyota Tsusho announced that it is sourcing its sugarcane-based hydrated ethanol (to produce ethylene for the use of monoethylene glycol for Toyota Tsusho’s bio-PET ~ whew!) from Brazilian oil and energy company Petrobras. The company is expected to supply 43,000 cubic meters/year of ethanol for 10 years, which is estimated to be worth $820 million.
I was able to get information from New Jersey, USA-based Petron Scientech, who is supplying the bio-ethylene and bio-MEG processing technology for Toyota Tsusho’s bio-PET business in Taiwan. Toyota Tsusho’s bio-MEG plant will be built by US-based Chemtex, which has the exclusive rights to build the plants using Petron’s technologies. Petron said they have similar projects going on in China for a Chinese domestic company.
Back to the K-Show, they had bio-based plastic launches from DSM, Telles, Clariant, DuPont, Roquette, Novamont, and Cromex.
Dutch company DSM launched at the K-Show a bio-based high performance thermoplastic copolyester under the trade name Arnitel® Eco. The plastic is said to have 20%-50% content derived from renewable resources made from rapeseed oil. DSM also introduced 5 new grades of its bio-based Ecopaxx resin. Ecopaxx was launched last year, and is said to contain 70% bio-based materials derived from castor oil.
DuPont and its partner Germany-based Takata-Petri launched a new grade of DuPont Hytrel RS, said to be the industry’s first renewable-sourced thermoplastic elastomer for use in airbag systems. The material contains a minimum of 35% renewable-based materials by weight.
DuPont said it is based on a thermoplastic ether-ester elastomer (TPC-ET) with hard segments of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and soft segments that contain a polyether derived from non-food biomass.
In masterbatches, Swiss producer Clariant and Brazilian company Cromex both launched additives for use in bioplastic. Clariant said their Renol compostable colors and CESA compostable additive masterbatches can now enable bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) and Novamont’s Mater-Bi to have wider range of options in color and performance-enhancing additives.
Cromex launched at the K-Show new colors and additives aimed at improving bioplastics performance specifically sugarcane-based PE and PLA, from manufacture to recycling. The company said the additives enable the bioplastics to serve markets such as automotive, toys, cosmetics and personal care packaging, among others.
Finally, from bioplastic producers themselves, Telles, the joint venture between US-based Archer Daniels Midland and Metabolix, announced that it has expanded its bioplastic application in food packaging and food service ware with its new Mirel thermoforming grade for use in non-alcoholic food contact applications.
The U.S. thermoforming market was reportedly estimated at 5bn pounds in 2008, growing at 4.3%/year. Telles estimates that about 70% of this demand is in food contact applications.
France-based starch chemicals producer Roquette announced at the K Show that it has entered the bioplastic market with its GAIALENE plant-based thermoplastics for transformers and compounders. The bioplastic contains over 50% plant-based materials and is said to be a product of hemisynthesis.
Roquette is targeting applications in packaging, household applicances, automobile, interior design, etc. The bioplastic can be formed and transformed using existing processes such as injection molding, blow film extrusion, extrusion blow molding, etc.
And last (but not the least), France-based Novamont introduced NATURENE, an Italy-produced biodegradable packaging developed by Novamont and Italian flexible packaging producer Safta. The bioplastic is made of Novamont’s Mater-Bi and is said to be suitable for most automatic FFS packaging lines.
Novamont also launched at the show its first industrial renewable-based clingfilm that is biodegradable and compostable. The stretchy clingfilm can be used for any kind of foodstuffs, even food that has a high fat content (oils, sauces, butter, etc.) or that is acidic. After use it can be disposed of as organic waste.