This news has been out for days now but Penford and Novomer just released its formal announcement today on their partnership to develop and commercialize packaging materials made from the combination of starch and poplypropylene carbonate thermoplastic polymer (which is composed of nearly 50% by weight waste carbon dioxide developed by Novomer.
The companies said the starch-PPC composites will yield “low cost, environmentally sustainable packaging polymers” suitable for the global packaging materials market.
We have covered Novomer ever since the green blog has been created, but what do we know about Penford?
Well, the company is a US-based starch derivatives player compared to the likes of Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Purac, Roquette, Novamont, and Tate & Lyle. The last time the blog mentioned something about Penford (given that they’re more known in the food ingredients sector) was when the company announced on November 2010 about their novel, renewable-based ingredient that can replace current fluorochemicals that are used in food packaging applications.
Fluorochemicals especially perfluorinated chemicals are one of those “chemicals of concern” listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency…remember those issues on cookwares with non-stick coatings?
Anyway, Penford has been busy purchasing Carolina Starches last week, and a facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as the company says it is now aiming to expand its bioproducts capabilities. In its bioproducts portfolio, the company produces ethanol, ethylated and oxidized starches used in coatings and as binders, and cationic and other liquid starches for used in the paper-forming process in paper production.
Going back to starch plastics, some of the global starch bioplastic players that the blog is familiar with are Cereplast, Novamont, Roquette, Germany-based Biotec and BIOP, and Plantic Technologies. Even several chemical companies have been producing starch blended copolymers where starch (such as thermoplastic starch or native starch) are combined with petrochemical-derived polymers.
Starch bioplastic have actually been produced for the past 20 years mostly in packaging and consumer goods. In fact, one my thesis in college was thermoplastic starch (it was a “sticky assignment” but my group passed).
Here is an interesting diagram that I came across on starch-based plastics production:
As for the starch-PPC composites, this will definitely be an interesting polymer given the CO2 component of the plastic. Novomer’s CO2-based polymer technology, by the way, won one of the ICIS Innovation Awards last year. You can read all about this technology in thisICIS link.