Marine degradable biopolymers PHA 23.03.2023
Marine degradable biopolymers PHA
-Bluepha launches commercial PHA portfolio
After six years of development and research work, China-based biotech company Bluepha, a China-based biotech company, celebrated the launch of its first portfolio of marine degradable biopolymers at a festive 1 March event. At the event, the company presented its Bluepha PHA, together with information about its properties and applications. As well, the company discussed the production processes developed, the facilities constructed and its innovative ‘Biohybrid’ technology.
PHA is a natural polymer occurring in the cells of a wide range of microorganisms, where it serves as a storage of carbon and energy. Microorganisms produce PHA using biomass as fermentation feedstock. Bluepha has developed an industrial process for its mass production. The company markets its PHA under the Bluepha name, or 蓝晶™ in Chinese.
Bluepha built and commissioned its first industrial-scale production facility, called BioFAB1, in 2022 in Yancheng. With this first 5000 tonne/year unit, which is staffed by a team with international experience in biomanufacturing, a solid basis could be laid for the stable supply of PHA. Marine degradable biopolymers PHA
The BioFAB1 is a ‘green factory’ in which use has been made of advanced technologies and approaches, such as magnetic levitation and the reuse of recycled water to minimise the energy and resources consumed. The company also announced that plans were on the table for the construction of BioFAB2. This facility will have a total production capacity of 25,000 tonnes of Bluepha resins per year.
Bluepha have developed two grades for commercial use: one, called BP350, a flexible grade with a high comonomer content; the other, BP330, is a rigid grade with a low comonomer content. The resin can be produced using different typoes of biomass as feedstock; currently, sustainably sourced plant oil, is used. Both grades are certified to have 100% biobased carbon content by TÜV Austria.
The resins are available in powder and pellet form and can be used alone or in blends.
Bluepha PHA is biodegradable in ‘all typical artificial and natural environments’, the company stressed during the presentation. In the tests conducted by Belgian test lab OWS, complete degradation in home composting conditions was achieved by both grades in 10 weeks; the marine degradation tests resulted in 90% biodegradation in 16 weeks for both grades, a result that is very close to cellulose. Marine degradable biopolymers PHA
“Today everyone is a victim – and a participant – in the current environmental crisis. We are in a paradox of plastics,” said Dr. Teng Li, president of Bluepha. “Six years ago, we asked ourselves if there was a way out of this paradox. We believe there is. We started Bluepha to address the paradox of plastics.”
At the presentation, Bluepha also unveiled its new ‘Biohybrid’ technology, which will allow the company to gradually transition to the use of third-generation carbon sources to produce its resins. Third-generation sources comprise greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide and industrial waste gas.
Blupha’s Biohybrid technology, combines the use of mixed feedstocks – carbon dioxide from the air and plant oil – to synthesise Bluepha. Marine degradable biopolymers PHA
The pilot to test Bluepha production based on Biohybrid technology has been completed. Over the next 24 months, Biohybrid-based Bluepha resins will become available in larger quantities. The company says that current efforts are directed at increasing the proportion of carbon atoms in Bluepha PHA derived from greenhouse gases. The aim is to increase the proportion from 10% to 20% by 2027, ultimately reaching 100%.
Even more importantly, said Bluepha CEO Dr. Haoqian Zhang, Biohybrid is a ‘fundamental technology’ that can be applied to almost any bio-manufacturing process. In the future, therefore, it could serve to manufacture a range of sustainable chemicals and materials.
“We went deep to find solutions said Teng. Marine degradable biopolymers PHA
“And our solution is a gift of nature…that has been in nature for billions of years. What we did is find a way to mass produce it.”
“It can be integrated into countless scenarios to add remarkable sustainability benefits,” added Zhang. “It’s only limited by your imagination.”