Focus on Bioplastics - News & Developments

Excerpt: An International Conference on Bioplastics (BIOP-2019) was organized by the Department of Microbiology, Alagappa University, Karaikudi, on 2nd April, 2019

Alagappa University holds International Conference on Bioplastics

An International Conference on Bioplastics (BIOP-2019) was organized by the Department of Microbiology, Alagappa University, Karaikudi, on 2nd April, 2019 in the Conference Hall, at the Science Campus of Alagappa University, Karaikudi.

Presiding over the function, Prof. N. Rajendran, Vice-Chancellor, Alagappa University, rightly pointed out that Alagappa University has now attained a significant place owing to academic excellence at the national level and the faculty must use this as a launching pad for creating benchmark in research. He added that we should compare our work with the work of universities ranking high globally to move forward. To achieve this global recognition, he stated that 1) Commitment, 2) Passion and 3) Sacrifice are needed. The Vice-Chancellor pointed out that world's 4% annual oil production of fossil fuel is used as feedstock for production of plastics. This creates energy crisis and environmental problems. Bioplastics is one of the possible solutions for above said problems. Current trends focused attention on production of bioplastic from Microorganisms by utilising renewable raw materials. Currently several polymers are synthesized from industrial waste by microbial fermentation.

The Department of Microbiology and Alagappa Institute of Skill Development in collaboration with CSIR, South Africa have already initiated a collaborative setup for manufacturing Bioplastics production at a cost of Rs.1.83 crores at Alagappa University under RUSA 2.O scheme.

Recently Dr. A.Arun, Associate Professor & Head i/c, Dept. of Microbiology of Alagappa University, Prof. Kunyu Zhang and his team members from Tianjin University from China received a fund of Rs.56.57 lakhs under SPARC by MHRD for production of cost effective modified bioplastics as an alternative for petroleum based plastics. He added that Alagappa University would be signing MoUs with higher world ranking Universities including the Tianjin University, China. The chief guest, Prof.Kunyu Zhang, Tianjin University, China.

In his inaugural address informed that there is a lot of scope for more co-operation between the two departments and even between our two universities. Research on Bioplastics has broad scope and it would provide employment opportunities to the students. Another scholar from the same University Prof. Dr. Dong Po Song, in his felicitation, invited students, scholars and Science Faculty members of Alagappa University to Tianjin University to have research collaboration for the betterment of both the institutions. Participants from various universities, institutions across the country, Alagappa University Science Faculty Members, Research Scholars and Students from Science Departments were present at the inaugural function. Dr. A. Arun, Head of the Department (i/c.), Alagappa University, Convener and Organizing Secretary of the Conference welcomed the gathering earlier and presented the thematic address Dr. T. Kavitha, Assistant Professor, proposed a vote of thanks.

Foam made from algae used in Mobius line of bags from Tentree

Vancouver-based Tentree International, Inc. which makes their Mobius line of backpacks, totes and travel bags out of recycled products, has introduced the foam made from algae foam for their bags, which provides padding for laptops and shoulder cushioning. Tentree CEO and Founder Derrick Emsley, 28, says that the inventive process actually makes the environment better than they found it.

Not only is the end material more sustainable, but the process to harvest the algae and create the material is incredibly beneficial to the environment. While algae typically helps keep water ecology in balance, too much of it can actually hurt the freshwater habitats and the people and animals living around them. The algae foam is created by harvesting the algae from polluted water and recirculating clean water back into the environment.”

They source from Bloom Foam and are the first company to make bags out of the materials. Before working with Tentree, only shoes and surfboards were made from the organic, naturally occurring substance. But after Tentree and the team from Bloom met at a product convention, Emsley became convinced that if the algae could work for shoe padding, it could work for backpack padding.

To make the foam, algae-filled water gets pumped into a filtration system. When the algae clump together, they float to the top and are scraped off while the filtered water goes back to the source. The algae mass is then dried before being expanded into the semi-spongy foam final product.

The Tentree team made more than 30 sketches of what the bag could look like before narrowing it down to one design to use as a starting point for the prototype. They then produced the sample at their factory and sent a designer to review the work and make additional changes. While considering options for the bag, they also sourced eco-friendly materials in addition to the algae foam, like buckles made from post-industrial waste. They source the outer material for the bags from Repreve, which makes fibers and fabrics out of used plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in landfills. It takes about 31 bottles to make the material in one Mobius backpack.

Emsley says that using the materials increases the cost of the parts of the bags by nearly three times as much in some cases, but that he believes it's worth the smaller profit margin to stick to the Tentree guiding principle of sustainability. Rather than introducing the bags straight to their inventory at a higher price point to reflect the manufacturing costs, they opted to instead crowdfund as a way to gauge consumer interest. “Launching it on Kickstarter proved that people cared about investing in a backpack that was this environmentally progressive,” says Emsley. Emsley says that while algae is an exciting material to work with, it's not the only one they've set their sights on. “We're currently experimenting with natural rubbers to produce our trims whereby the tree is tapped, similar to maple syrup,” he says. “It actually encourages faster growth.” He says he has broader goals for the business, however. Tentree plants ten trees for every product purchased (hence the name) and hope to have planted 1 billion trees by 2030. By 2020, they plan to use only fair-trade cotton and recycled cotton in all their products and by 2025, Emsley says they hope to make all of their products fully circular, meaning all products will have a solution for what to do with them when they've reached the end of their useful lifespans. “They'll either be biodegradable or fully recyclable,” he says. “No matter what, our products will not have to end in a landfill or an incinerator.”

Shiseido joins with KANEKA to develop biodegradable cosmetics containers

Japan-based cosmetics company Shiseido and Kaneka Corporation have joined forces to develop biobased packaging for Shiseido's cosmetic products based on Kaneka Biodegradable Polymer PHBH, a proprietary material that is also biodegradable in seawater.

The initiative stems directly from the corporate mission formulated by Shiseido in 2019: ”Beauty innovations for a better world”.

Aiming to remain vital and relevant for the next 100 years and beyond, Shiseido will work toward the realization of a better, sustainable world from a long-term perspective through “beauty innovation” driven by its core business. As part of its ongoing initiatives, Shiseido aims to develop a biodegradable container with less environmental impact by combining Kaneka's proprietary polymer material development technology and Shiseido's long years of expertise in developing containers for cosmetics.

As the first Japanese company to participate in SPICE (Sustainable Packaging Initiative for CosmEtics: an initiative for the development of sustainable packaging for cosmetics), Shiseido has been working toward a common goal of “collectively shaping the future of sustainable packaging” with global cosmetics companies since 2018.

Furthermore, the company has been using sugarcane-derived polyethylene containers for its hair care products since 2011 and plastic resins mechanically recycled from collected plastic bottles for its body shampoo containers since 2015.

Green plastic production made easy

An international team, including Kiyotaka Nakajima of Hokkaido University, Japan, and Emiel Hensen of Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands, has developed an energy-efficient method to synthesize bioplastic ingredients. The new technology will contribute towards the realization of sustainable 'green products', such as completely biobased beverage bottles. This study was conducted jointly with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and the findings were published in ACS Catalysis.

Biobased plastics are emerging as a next generation material and are expected to replace petroleum-derived plastics. A plant-derived polyester, called polyethylene furanoate (PEF), is a promising 100% renewables-based polymer derived from plants that can replace the giant of the plastic industry, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), due to its better physical, mechanical and thermal properties. However, realizing large-scale PEF production is seriously hampered by an inefficient production of the monomers.

Aerobic oxidation of a biomass-derived substrate called HMF in methanol and ethylene glycol produces monomers called MFDC and HEFDC, respectively. They are recognized as crucial monomers in the manufacture of PEF, because polymerization of MFDC with ethylene glycol or self-condensation of HEFDC can yield high-quality.

However, MFDC production has so far been exclusively studied for dilute HMF solutions, and more desirable routes for the production of HEFDC is currently impractical because a high-yield of the monomer cannot be produced efficiently. This limitation can be attributed to the highly reactive formyl (-CHO) groups in HMF, which are involved in heavy side reactions, especially in concentrated solutions: chemical transformation in concentrated HMF solutions that aims at large-scale production of commodity chemicals is accompanied by the formation of huge amounts of solid byproducts.

Nakajima, Hensen, and their colleagues previously developed a more stable compound called HMF-acetal (Figure 1). They have now examined the utility of HMF-acetal and found that 80-95% of HMF-acetal in a concentrated solution (10-20 wt%) can be successfully converted to MFDC and HEFDC with a gold nanoparticle catalyst. The present results represent a significant advance over the current state of the art, overcoming an inherent limitation of the HMF oxidation to important monomers for biopolymer production. The researchers note that this method has “less reaction steps, and the use of highly concentrated solutions will require less energy than conventional processes.” The researchers expect the new technique will not only improve the feasibility of commercial PEF production in the chemical industry, but also help advance a more ubiquitous use of bioplastics, as well as provide insight for the development of other bio-based chemical applications from various biomass-derived carbohydrates.

ASU Polytechnic works on developing bio-plastics in a lab

Tucked within ASU's Polytechnic campus, USA in the unassuming Mesa desert, ASU affiliates take part in the world's largest algae test-bed facility, working on the cutting edge of sustainability research. The facility, called the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation, is home to labs dedicated to using algae technology to develop sustainable alternatives to agriculture, commodities and energy. Even though the name AzCATI isn't commonly heard on the main campus, companies and countries across the world send scientists to the center year-round to learn about algae technology. One lab run by Taylor Weiss, an assistant professor in the environmental and resource management program, is leveraging the power of algae to produce plastic. Weiss is creating bio-plastics, which are plastic polymers that can be created from biological sources. In this case, cyanobacteria found within algae work alongside a naturally occurring secondary bacteria (Halomonas boliviensis) to form plastic. Getting the bacterial cells to produce plastic requires a simple genetic change. “It's a simple core metabolism,” Weiss said. “You can make any cell make bio-plastics, even humans cells.” The type of plastic Weiss is making is classified as biodegradable, solving the issue of synthetic plastics, which take a long time to break down. “(Bio-plastics) are stable in air, they're stable in water, they need biological action to break them down,” Weiss said, referencing the bio-plastics. “This intrinsically means instead of being a synthetic plastic that breaks down like rocks, it's a biopolymer that breaks down like wood.” The nature of these plastics makes them great for replacing things such as plastic lining. “Starbucks has had a recycling problem for a long time,” Weiss said. “Any paper cup you've ever seen that's coated in wax can hold cold liquid. You heat it up and it separates the wax from the paper. With coffee cups you can't do that, so they use synthetic plastics.” Because bio-plastics are biodegradable, they are possible solutions to the coffee cup dilemma and many others. “When people think of plastic pollution they think of plastic bottles in the ocean, right? That's actually less of a problem,” he said. “The problem is the microplastics. So every plastic bottle you've ever seen is just broken down into smaller and smaller pieces, which means things like algae are eating it and it's entering the food chain farther and farther now. And that's actually worse.” The large-scale production of synthetic plastics has grown to epidemic pollution proportions. “Synthetic plastics are incredibly resistant to degradation,” Weiss said. “The first plastics that were made are still here and they will continue to be.”

LVF works on Breakdown PET which is biodegradable

“The demonisation of plastic packaging over the last few months has been extreme to say the very least, but like the vast majority in our industry, we've been striving towards delivering environmentally friendly solutions for many years”, says Nigel Coates, Managing Director of LVF “BreakdownPET is the future of plastic packaging material, It biodegrades in landfill, and is currently undergoing tests that look certain to prove it is compostable in non-commercial facilities. We recycle close to 100 per cent of all waste we produce, and have done for as long as I remember, and prior to the introduction of BreakdownPET, we used rPET, which is fully recyclable and contains a minimum of 80 per cent post-consumer waste.” Gemma Earl, Podpak's Commercial Director, said: “We purchase bespoke, multi-cavity thermoformed trays from LVF. These were previously made using rPET and were fully recyclable.” “The problem though is that a significant percentage of plastic waste still ends up in landfill, so when Nigel and his team from LVF introduced Breakdown PET to us, we were eager to make the switch to a material that really can rectify a major environmental issue, even though it costs us a little more to buy in.”

One of The Most Important Bioplastics Conference in Europe!

The Bio-based Material Conference is a well-established meeting point for companies working in the field of bio-based chemicals and materials. The conference is one of the largest conferences and industry meeting points in Europe on bio-based chemicals, polymers and plastics.

The topic of this years conference is “Evolution of the Bio-economy: Survival of the Fittest? Learning from Success”. Bio-based polymers can be found in almost all applications such as packaging, consumer goods, toys, automotive, textiles or coating. New bio-based building blocks are also available for body care, cosmetics, food ingredients and pharmaceuticals. For the first time, the conference will include fine chemicals for food ingredients, flavours, body care, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. The latest capacity and production data and future trends of the most important bio-based polymers and bio-based building blocks will be shared during the session “Bio-based Building Blocks & Polymers”. This year's International Conference on Bio-based Materials is something very special! In addition to the two-day a, two expert workshops will take place the day before and the day after. The focus will be on standards, biotechnology and biorefineries. In addition, there will be a parallel session with fine chemicals for the first time on the first day of the conference. Asian Companies have to be present at this event, to make a chance to breakthrough on the European market !!!

For registration and other details: http://bio-based-conference.com/registration/

Bioplastics potential for Toys reinforced at bio!TOY

The success of the bio!TOY event held last week in Nuremberg, Germany's 'Toy Capital', confirms the potential of the toy industry for biobased plastic materials. Participants welcomed the conference as a platform for dialogue and cooperation.

Toys made of plant-based plastics instead of crude oil - this was the premise of the inaugural bio!TOY conference that took place on 27 and 28 March 2019 in Nuremberg, Germany. As conventional plastics continue to be a topic of public debate, industries across the board are turning to alternative material solutions – and the toy industry is no exception. The bio!TOY event, which attracted major players from the entire value chain, covered topics ranging from technical and ecological issues to practical examples in the market. The participants agreed that there is a huge development potential for biobased plastic applications in the toy industry. The event, which was jointly organised by bioplastics MAGAZINE and German innovation consultancy narocon, attracted 90 delegates from companies around the world, including brands such as Habermaaß, Mattel, Playmobil and Zapf Creation. Speakers and exhibitors from the bioplastics industry included DuPont, Hexpol, Neste and Total-Corbion, as well as compounders such as Tecnaro and FKuR. "The bio-pioneers of the industry are role models," explains Michael Thielen, publisher of bioplastics MAGAZINE, "they have attractive materials, good products - and convincing ideas. Although the 'bio-toy' industry is still in its infancy, experts are confident of its potential for development. "We have to shape a sustainable future, and these innovative plastic alternatives are a must," said Uwe Stützle of Ravensburger, spokesman for the Expert Committee for Technology and Environment of the German Toy Industry Association (DVSI) in his welcoming address. Lego is fully committed to transitioning to the use of sustainably sourced biobased plastics, as Nelleke van der Puil, Vice Presidents Material demonstrated in her presentation. The company already produces a number of sustainable elements from biobased PE derived from sugar cane. Braskem, the company supplying the bio-PE, has already discovered the toy industry as a target group. "We are experiencing strong demand," said exhibitor and speaker Patrick Zimmermann of FKuR, a company whose product portfolio includes a bio-PE from Braskem with over 90% biocontent, a 30% biobased PET material and a range of proprietary, tailor-made bio compounds. At the conference, Bioseries presented its PLA-based baby toys, while Zoe B Organic gave a talk about the range of biodegradable beach toys it offers. Both companies are led by women and are among the true pioneers of development. Highlights of the conference also included interviews, which - taking a cue from the sports world - were conducted against the backdrop of a logo wall. The wall of bioplastic building blocks was specially constructed by the Austrian startup BioBlo. "No toy conference without play and fun - no matter how serious the topic may be in view of the global plastics discussion and climate change," says Harald Käb of narocon, who came up with the idea. Ulrich Brobeil, Managing Director of DVSI, comments on the cooperation: "We liked being partners and learned a lot. The field is complex. The association and its member companies therefore have to be on the move and keep moving constantly. The DVSI has its eye firmly on the political situation, the sensitized end consumer and the challenge for the companies, including the areas of sustainable packaging, packaging reduction and recycling.”

Kaneka Belgium's biofoam shortlisted for Essenscia Innovation Award 2019

Japanese technology-driven specialty chemicals firm Kaneka Belgium, based in Westerlo, Belgium was one of the six finalists in the essenscia Innovation Award competition 2019. The biannual essenscia Innovation Award is the most prestigious prize for industrial innovation for chemistry and life sciences in Belgium.

Liège-based life sciences company Kaneka Eurogentec was also nominated for the award. The official essenscia award ceremony took place on April 2, 2019, at the Palace of the Academies in Brussels, where H.R.H. Princess Astrid presented the innovation award to the winning company, Mithra.

Kaneka Belgium was nominated for the development of a new, sustainable packaging material, which can be organically recycled, but is also biodegradable in the - marine and soil - environment.

The innovation project includes the development of a bio-based and biodegradable foam particle starting from a natural polymer PHBH™ and is the result of a successful merging of Kaneka's fermentation and macromolecular core technologies.

Gamechanger

“The sustainable innovation spirit of this material is indisputable. No matter where this material ends-up, it will degrade into water, CO2, and biomass by the micro-organisms available in nature. The development allows producing innovative packaging, fully in-line with the circular economy, integrating the added value of compostability as end-of-life and opens up new perspectives in waste management systems”, says Dr. Erwin Lepoudre, Business Manager Biodegradable Polymers. Today, Kaneka's polyolefin foam particles are already widely used in packaging thanks to their lightweight, durability and excellent insulating properties.The newly developed bio-based and biodegradable foam particles can be simply moulded using existing equipment into food and non-food packaging, without sacrificing the key features of polyolefin foams. Luc Point, General Manager Foam & Residential Techs: “the growth in the foam market has led Kaneka Belgium to expand the capacity of its foam production unit. Our unique access to both the foam particle technology and the natural polymer PHBH™ has prompted us to develop and produce a bio-based and biodegradable foam particle”. Kaneka Belgium has invested €15 million in the construction of a brand-new state-of-the-art foam production and R&D center, enabling high-end product innovation. The start-up of the new facilities is scheduled for later this year.

Bioplastics from organic marine resources through sustainable fermentation processes

Oceans are filling up with almost 8 million tonnes of plastic each year, but they are also teeming with organic material that could eventually put a halt to this trend. Israeli researchers have been working on a new fermentation process to create bioplastics from seaweed. In traditional fermentation processes, microbes are fed glucose derived from corn or vegetable oil. Certainly, oil from plant matter is now being viewed as a viable alternative to fossil-fuels in the creation of bioplastics, and interest in the use of plants as sustainable raw material is growing. However, using seaweed is of particular interest to countries such as Israel and China, that are lacking in freshwater and fertile soil in which to grow conventional crops. Scientists are widening the net still further in the search for alternative organic ingredients with unique qualities for replacing plastics, and using sustainable fermentation processes to convert them for a variety of applications.

Fermentation helps

Commercial fermentation process development projects each come with unique challenges, using a variety of microorganisms to help produce biofuels and biomass, and more specific purposes such as isolating enzymes or increasing yields of a protein. Researchers from Penn State University looking at the properties of squid have applied a commonly used fermentation process in their quest to create a renewable alternative to plastic. Using sugar, water and oxygen in a process typically applied to brewing beer, they have been able to sustainably replicate the high strength protein of squid ringed teeth in genetically modified bacteria.

The protein's unique properties, one of which enables squid to capture and hold on to their prey, can be further improved to use in elastic materials for smart self-healing clothing or flexible photonic devices. Other material originally sourced from the sea is made into a wide variety of sustainable products. Lobster shell is produced in vast quantities by food producers and restaurants. As it contains up to 40% of the polysaccharide chitin, lobster shell can be pulverised and mixed with vinegar to create a bioplastic solution suitable for making plastic bags. Completely decomposable water bottles can be made from the Agar powder derived from algae. When the powder is mixed with water, a bottle can be moulded to hold liquid until it is empty, when it will then start to decompose. However, the reach of alternative renewable plastics doesn't stop at everyday, practical packaging, bags and bottles. As well as making decomposable products, designers are experimenting with seaweed, algae and crab shells to construct furniture, ornaments and casings for electronics. By looking to the plastic-filled oceans for inspiration from nature, researchers can find abundant supplies of organic materials suitable for fermentation by bacteria and mixing with other ingredients to create sustainable items. Replacing their plastic counterparts, these can include everyday packaging products, specialised clothing and equipment, and even unique decorative objects.

Bio-on displays first modular storage system at Milan show

Only a few short months following the announcement of the alliance between Kartell, a leading design company, and biotechnology company Bio-on, the first fruits of the partnership are being exhibited at the Salone del Mobile.Milan.

Kartell has chosen to produce a new eco-friendly and sustainable edition of one of its best sellers - a modular storage unit designed in 1967 by Anna Castelli Ferrieri - in Bio-on's 100% natural bioplastic material. The 50-year old design is available in four colours: green, pink, cream and yellow in the three-module version.

For Kartell, research is a mission, said company president Claudio Luti. “We will continue to experiment to combine innovation and design.”

Kartell celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, thus 'we are happy to be able to reach another milestone', he added. “We have worked with Bio-on to be able to offer our public a very high-quality bioplastic product and we have chosen to do it on one of our historic products, one of the most recognized in the world. Research on bioplastics fits with our quest for innovation and is part of the "Kartell loves the planet" project aimed at enhancing good sustainability practices.”

For Bio-on, it is 'an honour', said founder and CEO Marco Astorri. The company is proud to see its bioplastic showcased with one of the most famous Italian design brands in the world. To reciprocate and in gratitude for the trust placed in the material, Bio-on has given the biopolymer used for this specific application the name CL, the initials of Claudio Luti.

In just a few days, Bio-on first saw the launch of the first line of solar cosmetics based on its technology, and now the first piece of furniture. “It is a clear confirmation of the extreme versatility that our biopolymer can offer, bringing its extraordinary advantages to all sectors,” Astorri concluded.

Dow and BioLogiQ examine options for sustainable plastic development

Dow and BioLogiQ are collaborating to evaluate potential synergies between BioLogiQ's novel NuPlastiQ BioPolymer, a thermoplastic plant-based resin, and Dow's industry-leading polyethylene resin portfolio, in an effort to explore enhanced sustainable plastic options. Dow and BioLogiQ will work together to test and consider potential applications that incorporate bio- based resins with polyethylene, in the hopes of enabling more plant-based plastic products.

BioLogiQ, a seven-year-old startup based in Idaho Falls, Idaho that's committed to creating plastics from renewable resources, will utilize Dow's industry-leading research and development, as well as the company's extensive plastic resin sales and distribution network, to determine if they can successfully leverage plant-based plastics.

“As a science-driven company, Dow is excited by the technical and environmental advantages that could be achieved by combining NuPlastiQ with Dow's industry-leading polyethylene,” stated Tim Boven, recycling commercial director at Dow. “We are looking forward to learning more about NuPlastiQ, and hope the collaboration will help us determine how these product combinations can benefit the market needs for the future.” Dow's commitment and mission to deliver breakthrough sustainable chemistry innovations that advance the well-being of humanity directly aligns with BioLogiQ's goal of discovering more sustainable solutions to plastics. “Our mission at BioLogiQ is to provide a way to create plastic products made from renewable resources,” explained Brad LaPray, founder and president of BioLogiQ. “This evaluation will help us determine if there is an opportunity for Dow and BioLogiQ to work together in the future to offer new applications to our customers.” The evaluation will help determine if NuPlastiQ is a potential fit with Dow's business from performance, bio-based and commercial viability perspectives. During the next year, Dow and BioLogiQ will perform evaluations at Dow's Pack Studios Development Center in Freeport, Texas and engage brands, research institutes and associations to evaluate the range of benefits from a combined offering.

Bioplastics produced by microbes thriving on electricity by Washington university researchers

Researchers in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis have figured out how to feed electricity to microbes to grow truly green, biodegradable plastic, as reported in the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology.

“As our planet grapples with rampant, petroleum-based plastic use and plastic waste, finding sustainable ways to make bioplastics is becoming more and more important. We have to find new solutions,” said Arpita Bose, assistant professor of biology in Arts & Sciences.

One of the main issues with renewable electricity is energy storage: how to collect power generated during the sunny and windy hours and hold it for when it is dark and still. Bioplastics are a good use for that “extra” power from intermittent sources, Bose suggests — as an alternative to battery storage, and instead of using that energy to make a different type of fuel.

Her laboratory is among the first to use microbial electrosynthesis to coax a polymer called polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) from electricity-eating microbes. The plastic they are making is “sustainable, carbon-neutral and low-cost,” Bose said.

“One of the major challenges in bioplastic production is the substrate input, which affects cost,” said Tahina Ranaivoarisoa, a research technician in the Bose laboratory and first author of the new paper. “A versatile bacterium such as R. palustris TIE-1 — which can effectively use just carbon dioxide, light and electrons from electricity or iron for bioplastic production — broadens the substrates that could be used in bioplastic production.”

In a related paper in the journal Bioelectrochemistry, Bose's research team illustrated how TIE-1 interacts with various forms of iron while also using electricity as a source of electrons. The researchers were able to improve production rates for PHB by manually coating electrodes that the microbes used with a special kind of rust, which increased their electricity uptake. Bose believes that microbially derived bioplastics have a future role to play in space, where astronauts could use 3-D printer technology to manufacture their own tools instead of transporting everything ready-made from Earth. “Our observations open new doors for sustainable bioplastic production not only in resource-limited environments on Earth, but also during space exploration and for in situ resource utilization on other planets,” Bose said.

Sentiall innovation from Corbion and Green-Basilisk named Bio-based product of the year

A highly innovative bio-based solution co-created by biotechnology leader Corbion and Green-Basilisk, a spin-off of Delft University of Technology, was named Bio-Based Product of the Year by Bio Market Insights in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, earlier this month.

The award celebrates the application of SENTIALL biotechnology from Corbion to create a self-healing concrete product brought to market by Green-Basilisk.

The concept was born when a team at TU Delft discovered how to manufacture a bacteria that, when exposed to oxygen and water, would fill cracks in concrete by converting substrates into limestone, thereby repairing those cracks automatically. The team collaborated with Corbion to develop a substrate that could survive the process of making, pouring and curing the concrete. SENTIALL provided a key component of the self-healing mechanism through a co-polymer that releases the substrate when a crack occurs without affecting the setting time or the strength of the concrete. Green-Basilisk was established to commercialize the innovation, which dramatically improves the durability of concrete structures, reduces costly maintenance and repairs, and helps to safeguard the integrity of tunnels, bridges, viaducts and other structures affecting public safety. "Together with Corbion we are now able to provide the market with an innovative alternative for ordinary concrete", says Bart van der Woerd, managing director of Green-Basilisk. "Self-Healing Concrete is more sustainable and durable and has therefore a great future in the construction business." “The solutions of greatest value to the world are the ones capable of delivering lasting value," said Frederik Feddes, vice president-Biochemicals at Corbion. "In our experience at Corbion, those solutions usually result when we combine our strengths and share a sense of urgency about making a difference. We happily accept this recognition, along with our co-creators at Green-Basilisk, and are inspired by the other exciting collaborations brought to light by the Bio Market Insights Awards." The SENTIALL platform was commercially launched in February 2019 by Corbion . It is a versatile co-polymer platform that delivers specific, high-value functionalities such as adhesion or controlled release in a range of industries and applications. The project with Green Basilisk is one of the first successful applications of the new SENTIALL platform.