BASF flexes its Eco muscles

After its acquisition of Cognis (which specializes in natural-based specialty chems), BASF seems to be announcing a lot more renewable-based chemistry investments this past two months – first with the startup of its Ecoflex biodegradable plastic plant in Germany, and now a license deal with biodegradable plastic producer Metabolix.

According to a February 4 press release, BASF received a license from Metabolix under U.S. Patent No. 5,883,199, titled “Polylactic Acid-Based Blends,” to produce and market PLA and PBAT (a biodegradable poly-butylene adipate-co-terephthalate) co-polyester compounds under the BASF trade name Ecovio®.

Ecovio biodegradable polymer is a blend of Ecoflex® biodegradable aliphatic-aromatic copolyester and polylactic acid on the basis of corn. The University of Massachusetts is the owner of the ’199 patent, and Metabolix, Inc. is its exclusive licensee in the relevant field.

No other information was disclosed. The blog’s colleague, however, had a recent scoop posted on ICIS news (subscription only) stating that BASF is considering further bioplastic expansion following the Metabolix license acquisition.

BASF said a new green field plants would be required to produce the compounds but did not disclose any potential locations.

In another Eco news, BASF said it has launched its SELECT™ (Sustainability, Eco-Labeling and Environmental Certification Tracking) Eco-Label Manager, a database created to strategically manage the abundance of eco-labels, environmental claims, directories and ratings systems by allowing the user to search, analyze and compare these programs in a structured and consistent format.

Currently, the tool includes 100 programs for review, primarily associated with North America, although BASF said it is continuously adding programs from all over the world.

Examples include Built Green™ Canada, a residential construction checklist and energy rating system; USGBC LEED® programs, and the Green Guides, a set of guidelines established by the Federal Trade Commission to help manufacturers make clear and substantiated marketing claims.

By the way, don’t forget that Cognis still has its green ingredients guide launched in late 2007 that let customers identify how green their products could be.

And last but not the least, BASF also recently announced its investment intention within the area of green mobility such as advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

According to BASF, it will invest a 3-digit million sum for battery-related activities in the next five years, which will include R&D programs devoted to optimizing lithium-ion technology and developing completely new battery concepts, and cooperations with partners.

BASF is currently building a production plant for advanced cathode materials in Elyria, Ohio, US, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The new $50m (plus) facility is scheduled to supply the market with cathode materials for the production of high-performance lithium-ion batteries from mid-2012.

The company is also collaborating with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)for a joint development of innovative battery materials via a new laboratory built in Karlsruhe. The aim of the cooperation is to focus on increasing the lifetime of batteries, the use of high storage capacity materials and the safety of battery systems.

The partners will be jointly investing about €12 million into these activities in the next five years. In initial projects scientists are, for example, developing ceramic ion conductors for use as protective layers in future battery generations.

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