Friday, August 30, 2013

Production Capacities for Bio-based Polymers in Europe are Limited to Few Polymers: nova-Institute

Europe's current position in producing bio-based polymers is limited to a few polymers. However, new developments and investments are foreseen: the first European industrial-scale PLA plant by 2014, the introduction of future PET production facilities by 2015, recent developments in the commercialization of bio-based PBT and further advancements in the field of high-value fine chemicals for PA, PUR and thermosets production.

Although Europe shows a strong demand for bio-based polymers, production tends to take place elsewhere, namely in Asia and America. The European Union's relatively weak position in the production of bio-based polymers is largely the consequence of an unfavorable political framework for the industrial material use of biomass.
The European market data presents the latest findings of production capacities of bio-based polymers in Europe based on the market study published by the nova-Institute in spring this year and its continuously updated database.

The "Bio-based Polymers Producer Database" shows that Europe's situation in producing bio-based polymers is limited to just a few polymers. Europe has so far established a solid position mainly in the field of starch blends (blends of polymers with native starch or thermoplastic starch) and it is expected to remain strong in this sector for the next few years (see figure). Nevertheless, new developments and investments are foreseen in Europe: some years after the installation of industrial scale PLA capacities in North America and Asia, the first European industrial-scale PLA plant is scheduled to become operational in 2014.
PET production is growing worldwide, largely due to the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC) initiative, whose global value chain development will lead to the introduction of future production, facilities in Europe by 2015.
Bio-based polymers: Evolution of production capacities in Europe from 2011 to 2020
Bio-based polymers: Evolution of production capacities in Europe from 2011 to 2020 (without Cellulose acetate and Thermosets)
One noteworthy finding of other studies is that Europe shows the strongest demand for biobased polymers, while production tends to take place elsewhere, namely in Asia and South America. The bio-based polymer production facilities for PLA and PHA located in Europe are currently rather small, and although there are next to no production capacity figures for the latter, several pilot plants are already operating. On the other hand, bio-based PUR and PA production has gradually taken off in Europe and is likely to remain stable in order to supply the growing markets on the building and construction and automotive sectors. Europe does host industrial production facilities for PBAT (shown in figure). Although still fully fossil-based, PBAT is expected to be increasingly bio-based reaching shares of 50% by 2020, to judge by industry announcements and the capacity development of its bio-based precursors. Also for PBT (see table) recent developments in the production of bio-based 1,4-butanediol (BDO) have proven that the bio-based route to the polymer is commercially feasible and its production is planned to have started by 2020 (date not disclosed yet).
With leading chemical corporations, Europe has a particular strength and great potential in the fields of high-value fine chemicals and building blocks for the production of PA, PUR and thermosets among others. However, only few specific, large-scale plans for bio-based building blocks with concrete plans for the production of bio-based polymers have been announced to date.
Bio-based polymers, producing companies in Europe and production capacities (t/a)
Bio-based polymers, producing companies in Europe and production capacities (t/a)

EU: No dedicated policies to promote bio-based polymers

The European Union's relatively weak position in the production of bio-based polymers is largely the consequence of an unfavorable political framework. In contrast to biofuels, there is no European policy framework to support bio-based polymers, whereas biofuels receive strong and ongoing support during commercial production (quotas, tax incentives, green electricity regulations and market introduction programs, etc.). Without comparable support, bio-based chemicals and polymers will suffer further from underinvestment by the private sector. It is currently much more attractive and safe to invest in bio-based polymers in Asia, South America and North America.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Cereplast's BioPP 101 Used to Manufacture Child Bicycle Carriers by Bellelli's MammaCangura

Cereplast, Inc.,among the leading manufacturers of proprietary biobased, compostable and sustainable bioplastics,recently announced that MammaCangura by Bellelli, one among the world leaders in the design and manufacture of child bicycle carriers and trailers, is launching a line of child bicycle carriers made from Cereplast Biopropylene® 101 this fall.
MammaCangura is manufacturing two child bicycle carriers made from Cereplast Biopropylene 101: FRECCIA ECO, a front-mounted child bicycle carrier, and MR FOX ECO, a rear-mounted child bicycle carrier. Initially, both carriers will be available for retail sale and purchase by MammaCangura North America at brick and mortar retailers in Canada.


Made from a non-toxic bioplastic frame, FRECCIA ECO is lightweight, solid and washable, featuring big-feet-shaped footrests, a secure handlebar for the child to play with, wide ventilation slots on the back and shoulders, a soft, removable and washable seat pad, a three-point length-adjustable harness, wider and safer legs/feet side protection to avoid contact with any parts of the bike, a child-proof, parent-friendly, one-hand fasten and release safety buckle with two depth settings, a wide, comfortable seat with high sideboards to increase child support and containment and a one-click, easyon/ easy-off protection handle.


Made from a non-toxic bioplastic frame, MR FOX ECO is lightweight, durable and washable and features an ergonomic backrest with an integrated helmet slot to ensure maximum support and comfort to the child's back and neck, a heightlength- depth-adjustable five-point harness, higher and safer sideboards, a soft, removable, washable seat pad, a childproof, parent-friendly one-hand fasten and release safety buckle with two depth settings in the seat center, broad footrest settings and four-position, length adjustable foot straps, a wide, comfortable seat, and high sideboards to increase child support and containment and wider and safer legs/feet side protection to avoid any contact with wheel spokes. The MammaCangura FRECCIA ECO and MR FOX ECO are made from Cereplast Biopropylene 101, which offers a lower carbon footprint when compared to conventional plastics. A third party lifecycle assessment (LCA) of Cereplast Biopropylene 101* determined that this grade of bioplastic resin is superior to all conventional plastics evaluated in terms of overall environmental impact. The LCA compared Cereplast Biopropylene 101 bioplastic to four different conventional plastics including Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE),Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), High Impact Polystyrene (HIPS) and Polypropylene (PP), and provided a rating for each product's cumulative environmental impact including climate change, ozone layer depletion, and ecotoxicity.
The reduction in Global Warming Potential for Biopropylene 101 compared to conventional Polypropylene (PP) is 32%. When you replace 1,000,000 pounds of conventional PP with Biopropylene 101, the environmental impact reduction is 800,000 pounds of CO2 eq., which is equivalent to driving 732,800 miles in an average passenger vehicle, or driving around the world more than twenty-nine times. If 0.1% of the global demand for PP was replaced with Hybrid 101, that's the same as removing 5,100 cars from America's roads or planting 1,200,000 trees, which would save millions of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
*Formerly named Cereplast Hybrid 101

Source: Cereplast, Inc.

Friday, August 16, 2013

High-tech plastic makes notebooks razor-thin

Casing thickness and weight considerably reduced with a total design freedom to achieve sleek and stylish forms

Light enough to be taken anywhere, razor-thin and stylish, powerful and long-lasting: this is what defines a new generation of laptops – the “ultra- notebooks”. They address the needs of today’s technology-savvy people on the move. To help producers meet these demands even better, Bayer MaterialScience is launching a new material solution for the housings: reinforced polycarbonates that offer lightness, durability, and total design freedom, and allow fast and efficient mass production.

“We are committed to providing solutions to the next trend of mobile computing,” says Steffan Huber, responsible for industrial marketing of information technology and appliances at Bayer MaterialScience’s Polycarbonates business unit. “These requirements call for a more sophisticated hardware made from higher performance materials.” The company’s solution based on reinforced polycarbonates can make the casings lighter and thinner while maintaining sturdiness and safety, Huber adds.

”The new reinforced polycarbonate solution from Bayer can address the needs of end consumers for lighter, thinner, more stylish, safe and sturdy mobile devices,” says Dr. Ning Hao, Material Engineer at the IT company Lenovo. “At the same time it enables manufacturers to save energy and time in the production process of the parts. One full set of housing can be produced in less than one minute.” 

While traditional notebooks can weigh up to 2.6 kg and have a 3.5 cm profile thickness, the new ultrathin laptop generation offers weights as low as 1.5 kg and only a 2.1 cm profile thickness. Bayer’ specially formulated reinforced polycarbonates can trim weight further to save up to 100 g, which is 1.4 kg in total weight. And they reduce profile thickness by 45%, meaning 1.4 cm or even less. 

The new material also comes in a broad range of color choices and allows the laptop housings to achieve complex geometric structures (3D) and innovative surface textures (2D). Or it can be given a coating for a soft touch surface feeling.

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2012 sales of EUR 11.5 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. At the end of 2012, Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,500 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Newlight's AirCarbon Wins Prestigious R&D 100 Award

Newlight Technologies inventor and manufacturer of AirCarbon™, announced that AirCarbon has been awarded a R&D 100 Award. The prestigious and influential R&D 100 Awards—also known as the "Oscars of Innovation"—are selected by a panel of independent industry experts and R&D Magazine editors, and recognize the most technologically significant innovations of the year. 

Now in its 51st year, past R&D 100 Award winners include the fax machine (1975), liquid crystal display technology (1980), the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992), the Taxol anticancer drug (1993), and HDTV (1998). A full list of the 2013 award recipients will be showcased in the September-October issue of R&D Magazine, and the award will be presented to Newlight at the R&D 100 Awards banquet on November 9 in Orlando.

Founded in 2003, Newlight Technologies has invented, patented, and commercialized AirCarbon™, a paradigm-shifting material made by pulling carbon, such as methane and carbon dioxide, out of air. As a result of Newlight's breakthroughs in gas conversion yield and polymer performance, AirCarbon can replicate the performance of oil-based plastics while significantly out-competing on price, representing a market-driven solution to displacing oil, reducing material cost, and reversing climate change. 

"Newlight is honored to receive this prestigious award, and humbled to be in the company of the award's previous winners," said Mark Herrema, Newlight CEO. "This award recognizes the potential of AirCarbon: to reverse climate change by sequestering greenhouse gas into high-performance materials that outcompete oil-based plastics on price. Our breakthroughs in bringing AirCarbon to market were made possible by the contributions of each member of our exceptional team, and this award is a testament to their efforts."

Newlight commenced sales of the company's carbon-capturing AirCarbon materials in 2012, and demand for AirCarbon has since grown significantly, with over 12.5 million pounds of AirCarbon under executed letter of intent to purchase. AirCarbon is currently being used to manufacture furniture, bags, films, containers, top caps, and a variety of other products. Newlight's customers and product development partners include some of the largest manufacturers in the world, including multiple Fortune 500 companies and brand-name market leaders.

In recognition of the company's technological and commercialization achievements, AirCarbon was named "Biomaterial of the Year" in April 2013, and Newlight was named "Most Innovative Company of the Year" by the American Business Awards in June 2013.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

RTP Company launches new cellulose fiber reinforced PP compounds

Global custom engineered thermoplastics compounder RTP Company has unveiled the latest addition to its Eco Solutions product portfolio with a new line of custom cellulose fiber reinforced polypropylene (PP) compounds.

These compounds, which utilize Weyerhaeuser's Thrive renewable cellulose fiber extracted from trees grown in sustainably managed forests, will facilitate the design and production of environmentally friendly products by providing favorable performance and economics to a wide range of durable applications.

"RTP Company's new cellulose fiber reinforced PP compounds overcome many of the obstacles that have hindered the adoption of bio-based resins and natural fiber compounds," said Will Taber, Business Manager at RTP Company. "They will allow product developers to meet consumer demand for environmentally friendly products that are highly functional yet cost effective. Additionally, they can help processors and OEMs to meet their sustainability objectives by reducing processing costs. On multiple fronts these new compounds provide an unmatched advantage."

Cellulose fibers are a unique reinforcement that can be incorporated into PP to provide increased strength, stiffness, and thermal performance making these compounds suitable for structural applications while providing sought after eco-friendly, renewable content.

In comparison to other natural fibers like wood, hemp, and sisal or natural fillers like wood flour and wheat straw-cellulose fiber provides higher strength and stiffness, consistent color, superior processability, low odor, and a reliable supply.

Advantages cellulose fiber has over glass fiber as reinforcement in PP include: renewable content to meet sustainability objectives, lower energy consumption during processing, specific gravity reductions of 6-9% at like loadings, average cycle time reductions up to 30% for medium to thick walled parts, and reduced tool wear.

Compared to unreinforced PP, a homopolymer PP with 20% cellulose fiber reinforcement offers a 38% increase in tensile strength, a 75% boost in flexural modulus, and a 60°F rise in heat deflection at 66 psi (16°C at 455 kPa). Cellulose fiber reinforced PP compounds from RTP Company also offer strength and stiffness that is comparable to uncoupled glass fiber reinforced PP and achieves approximately 75% of the performance of a chemically coupled glass fiber reinforced PP.

Cellulose fiber can also be combined with glass fiber or impact modified copolymer for materials that meet requirements of more demanding applications. These compounds can also incorporate post-consumer recycled PP to maximize their eco-friendly content. Additionally, they are fully colorable, can be overmolded with select RTP Company thermoplastic elastomers to enhance application ergonomics, and are available worldwide from RTP Company's global network of full-service facilities that provide technical support from design through finished part production.

Cellulose fiber reinforced PP compounds have potential uses in a variety of structural injection molded parts including bezels, bases, brackets, knobs, handles, lids, and housings for the automotive, appliance, furniture, lawn and garden, sporting goods, and toy markets. They are a part of RTP Company's portfolio of Eco Solutions products that provide new design and performance options for manufacturers of eco-conscious products through materials that use bio-based or recycled content resins and natural fiber reinforcement.

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