Green plastics - latest developments

Excerpt: AT the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2015, Carlsberg announced an agreement to develop the world's first fully biodegradable wood-fiber bottle for beverages.

Green plastics - latest developments

Here below are listed some of the developments in the field of Green bioplastics.

Beverage bottles

AT the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January 2015, Carlsberg announced an agreement to develop the world's first fully biodegradable wood-fiber bottle for beverages. The project will be a three- year project with packaging company ecoXpac (one of the newest members of the Carlsberg Circular Community), with the additional collaboration of Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark. The aim is to develop a biodegradable and biobased bottle made from sustainably sourced wood-fiber, to be known as the Green Fiber Bottle. All materials used in the bottle, including the cap, will be developed using bio-based and biodegradable materials – primarily, sustainably sourced wood-fibers – allowing the bottle to be responsibly degraded.

ALPLA (Hard, Austria), a leading international specialist in packaging solutions has developed a 100 % bio- based plastic PEF (polyethylene furanoate) as the packaging material of the future, as it is made from renewable materials. PEF (polyethylene furanoate) has an exceptional gas barrier (e. g., 10 times higher barrier properties for oxygen compared to PET). Together with its higher strength this enables the development of thinner and lighter For enquiries : email: author.ppp@gmail.com bottles. In addition, PEF is more heat- resistant and it can also be processed at lower temperatures. With these superior properties it has the potential to prolong the shelf life of certain food products and beverages. This 100 % bio-based and 100 % recyclable new polymer is expected to be the packaging material of the future. PEF is suitable for the production of extremely thin and light, yet strong, packaging, such as for drinks and foods. On June 3, 2015 also during an EXPO 2015, The Coca-Cola Company unveiled the world's first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant materials at the World Expo – Milan. PlantBottle packaging pushes the boundaries on sustainable innovation by using groundbreaking technology to create a fully recyclable plastic bottle made from renewable plant materials. In addition to biobased PET Coca-Cola is also pursuing and supporting Avantium's approach to develop a 100 % bio-based PEF resin.

Nylons: the old and the new

T h e o l d e s t 1 0 0 % b i o b a s e d engineering thermoplastic is nylon 11. Made exclusively by Arkema and sold under the Rilsan brand name, the 40+-yr old material is based entirely on castor oil, and has long been used in such applications as truck air brakes. In recent years it has gained acceptance in diesel fuel lines and camera lens caps. Nylon 610 is another “green” resin (60-64% from castor oil) with a long pedigree-

Green Plastics

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over 50 years-and has gained entry in automotive radiator end tanks and fuel lines. It's available from several suppliers, including Arkema, DuPont, BASF, Solvay, and Ems Chemie (U.S. office in Sumter, S.C.).

In 2009, Arkema launched the first transparent biobased nylon, Rilsan Clear G830, a highly transparent amorphous nylon with 54% biobased content. It has found use in applications ranging from sport or designer optical frames to breathing masks and hearing aids. It boasts 10-20% lighter weight than ABS, PC, PMMA, or nylon 6. Rilsan HT followed soon after; it's a high-temperature polyphthalamide (PPA) extrusion resin with unusual flexibility for a PPA. It has made its mark in metal-to-plastic conversion of engine- compartment tubing.

Biobased Rilsan T nylon 1010, launched in 2013, is a unique long-chain nylon. In addition to the chemical resistance and mechanical properties of long-chain nylons, it is said to afford an excellent degree of rigidity, thermal stability, impermeability to fuels, and processability. This 100% biobased material further expanded Arkema's range and was boosted by the firm's 2012 acquisition of Chinese companies Casda, a global leader in sebacic acid derived from castor oil; and Hipro Polymers, which makes Hiprolon 610, 612, 1010, 102. Arkema also purchased a stake in India's Ihsedu Agrochem, which produces castor oil.

Green Plastics

Engineering plastics

Commodity resins like polyolefins and PET have been in the forefront of biobased and recycled-content news over the last five to 10 years, but recently it has been reported that some engineering thermoplastics have also been catching up. To ensure that such sustainable plastics are widely adopted, suppliers have been aiming to make them comparable to conventional resins in performance and cost-effectiveness.

Driven by markets such as packaging, automotive, electronics, consumer goods, and medical devices, there has been increasing activity among suppliers of engineering resins to develop biosourced feedstocks from plant oils, sugars, or starches to synthesize new monomers for some of their key materials. The emphasis by several companies has been on developing sugar sources from crop waste or other renewable chemicals from non-food biomass. Most of the commercial activity has been focused on nylons and polyesters, though some has been directed toward higher-end TPEs and TPUs.

Attesting to these trends were presentations at the “Re-Invention of Plastics via renewable Chemicals” conference by Innoplast Solutions, Inc., held in Miami recently. Presenters included such leaders in this arena as DuPont, Wilmington, Del., Arkema, King of Prussia, Pa., DSM Engineering Plastics, Birmingham, Mich., and China's Cathay Industrial Biotech (U.S. office in Powell, Ohio), each of which addressed its newest activities and future aims.

TPEs & specialty copolyesters

In 2007, DuPont launched its Hytrel RS TPEs and its Sorona EP PTT polyester, both made from propanediol (PDO) derived from fermented cornstarch. Hytrel RS copolyetherester TPEs have PBT hard segments and renewable PTMEG soft segments. The renewable content varies according to the hardness required. These materials have been used for automotive and industrial hose and tubing, constant- velocity joint (CVJ) boots, airbag doors, energy dampers, air ducts, and coil cords. They have also been used in furniture, such as in the suspension webbing of the new Knoll “Generation Chair.” Softer versions have potential for cellphone covers and wire insulation.

Sorona EP PTT is a unique thermoplastic polyester with 37% bio- PDO content. It has been targeted to electrical and electronic components, appliance parts, power-tool applications, furniture, medical applications, and automotive components. The material has reportedly been used to make medical biopsy punches.

Its automotive debut was in the 2012 Toyota hybrid Prius alpha, where it was chosen for air-vent louvre vanes because of its heat resistance and durability. In addition to lower warpage and Class A surface appearance, the 45% glass-filled Sorona part eliminated the extra paint step needed with the 45% glass-filled PBT used in the past. DuPont is looking for additional similar applications.

In 2010, Arkema introduced its first engineering TPEs made from renewable resources. Pebax Rnew polyether block amide (PEBA) combines a rigid block of nylon 11 with a hydrophobic polyether soft block, yielding a resin with 20-95% bio content. These TPEs have found use in sports shoes and other sports equipment as well as in blends with other resins.

In her Innoplast presentation, “ B i o b a s e d H i g h P e r f o r m a n c e Polyamides: Solutions for Consumer Markets,” Arkema's Min Zheng, business development engineer for the consumer market, concluded that by combining Rilsan nylon and Pebax Rnew, manufacturers can now design consumer goods made from 100% biobased resins ranging from mobile- phone cases and sports shoes to appliances, hygiene and beauty items, films, and packaging.

Meanwhile, Lanxess in Germany has made production runs of Pocan PBT using 20 metric tons of biobased BDO (1,4-butanediol) made with the process developed by San Diego-based Genomatica. The process converts sugars into BDO in a patented direct fermentation process. According to Lanxess, biobased PBT compounds are a drop-in replacement in established PBT automotive or electrical/electronic applications.

BASF recently announced it is now offering biobased Polytetrahydrofuran 1000 for the first time as an intermediate to selected partners for testing in various polymer synthesis applications. PolyTHF1000 is a polymer made of linear diols with a backbone of repeating tetramethylene units connected by ether linkages. It can be used as a building block for soft-segment elastomers such as TPUs, copolyetheresters and copolyetheramides. PolyTHF is derived from 1,4-butanediol (BDO). BASF is now producing BDO using Genomatica's patented one-step sugar fermentation process. Applications range from ski boots and shoe soles to automotive instrument panel skins, hoses, films, and cable sheathing.

Mazda Motor Corpn, Japan has recently developed a biobased engineering plastics suitable for exterior automobile parts. The new resin which has been developed in close cooperation with Mitshubishi Chemicals. Japan is based on Durabio, a biopolycarbonate resin derived mainly from plant based isosorbide, which is currently made from low grade corn not suitable for human consumption. The new b i o p l a s t i c i s c o m p o s e d o f approximately 45% plant derived material and 55% fossil-oil based material.

Green Plastics

Green Plastics

The Authors TILLMAN U. GERNGROSS and STEVEN C. SLATER have each worked for more than eight years in industry and academia to develop technologies for making biodegradable plastics. Both researchers have contributed to understanding the enzymology and genetics of plastic-producing bacteria. In the past two years, they have turned their interests toward the broader issue of how plastics manufacturing affects the environment. Gerngross is an assistant professor at Dartmouth College, and Slater is a senior researcher at Cereon Genomics, a subsidiary of Monsanto, in Cambridge, Mass.


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