AVA-CO2 announces successful development of new interface for different FDCA oxidation routes
Plastic-Eating Bacteria Could Help Revolutionize Recycling
Axens awarded the first crude-to-paraxylene complex in China
AVA Biochem, world leader in 5-HMF, adds FDCA to its product portfolio
07 September 2015
Researchers to investigate creating new plastics from old straw
by Laura Gallagher
13 September 2014
Bioplastics: Are They the Solution?
By Sarah (Steve) Mosko
Bioplastics are simply defined as plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, like plants and microorganisms, whereas conventional plastics are synthesized from non-renewable fossil fuels, either petroleum or natural gas. It’s a common misconception, however, that a bioplastic necessarily breaks down better in the environment than conventional plastics.
Bioplastics are nevertheless marketed as being better for the environment, but how do they really compare?
The Problems with Petroleum-Based Plastics
The push to develop bioplastics emerges from alarming realities starting with the staggering quantity of plastics being produced, over 20 pounds a month for every U.S. resident, according to the latest numbers from the American Chemistry Council.Conventional plastics do not biodegrade (defined below) within any meaningful human timescale – they just break apart into smaller plastic fragments. This means that, except for a tiny fraction of plastic that is combusted for energy production, all plastic eventually ends up as trash, either in landfills or as litter.
Petroleum and natural gas are actually organic substances, but why plastics synthesized from them do not biodegrade is straightforward. The exceptionally strong carbon-carbon bonds created to form the backbone of plastic polymers do not occur naturally in nature so are foreign to microorganisms which readily eat up other organic materials.
Molecules of conventional plastic are also gigantic, making them extra difficult to digest. Each is composed of literally thousands of repeating units called “monomers” so that the weight of a finished polymer molecule is typically over 10,000 (for comparison, the weight of a single water molecule is 18). The simplest is polyethylene (grocery bags, ketchup & shampoo bottles, e.g.) which is just an enormous string of carbon atoms with attached hydrogen atoms.
Captain Charles Moore’s latest trawls in the North Pacific Garbage Patch between California and Japan revealed that the ratio of the weight of plastic debris to zooplankton has risen to 36:1, a six-fold increase in a single decade. Plastic debris is increasing in even the most remote of ocean areas, like the Arctic seafloor.
Buildup of plastics in the marine environment is particularly worrisome. Creatures as varied as sandworms, barnacles, krill, jellyfish, birds, turtles and whales are known to ingest plastic debris, which can block digestive tracts, while many forms of sea life die instead from entanglement.
Furthermore, ingested plastics are a vehicle for transfer of toxins in seawater into the food web because we know from Japanese researchers that the oily nature of plastics allows them to concentrate oily toxins (like polychlorinated biphenyls, nonylphenols and derivatives of DDT) from seawater onto their surfaces. Food web contamination from potentially risky chemicals added to plastics during their manufacture (like bisphenol-A, phthalates and nonylphenols) is a parallel concern.
To understand if bioplastics are less of a hazard to the marine and other environments, it’s first helpful to clear up the meanings of often misconstrued terms describing the breakdown of plastics.
Degradable ≠ Biodegradable ≠ Compostable
Standards for measuring how plastics break down in particular environments have emerged only recently so are still in development. Comparisons among plastics are further complicated by the fact that no one entity is universally recognized as setting those standards.
Nevertheless, international standards have been established by two bodies, ASTM International (formerly American Society for Testing and Materials) and the Switzerland-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Despite the confusion this fragmentation generates, there is consensus on the distinctions between the key terms: degradable, biodegradable and compostable.
Degradable simply means that chemical changes takes place, maybe from sunlight or heat, that alter a plastic’s structure and properties, like clouding or fragmenting.Biodegradable more narrowly denotes that the degradation results from naturally-occurring microorganisms (bacteria, fungi or algae) but makes no guarantee that the degradation products are non-toxic or make good compost. Compostable goes a step further: ASTM’s definition, for example, specifies that the microorganisms’ breakdown products must yield “CO2, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate consistent with other known compostable materials and leave no visible, distinguishable or toxic residue,” such as heavy metals.
Plastics can potentially be designed to meet any standard(s) set by ASTM or ISO for breakdown in either aerobic environments, like water or soil, or in anaerobic ones (lacking oxygen), like enclosed wastewater treatment systems. The sealed-off environment within conventional landfills, however, is not amenable to biodegradation of any materials, so there has been little interest in developing standards for landfills.
Plastics manufacturers submit finished products to independent testing organizations which certify whether they meet standards for biodegradable or compostable in given environments.
The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) in New York offers a single certification, guaranteeing compostability (as defined by ASTM) in an industrial composter where conditions like temperature and humidity are tightly controlled. However, the significance of this certification within the United States is undermined by the reality that there are very few industrial composting facilities nationwide.
In Europe, where development of an infrastructure for composting is further along, the organization Vinçotte offers not only certification for industrial compostable but also for home compostable, biodegradable in agricultural soil, and biodegradable in fresh water.
The sole standard for biodegradation of plastics in the marine environment basically requires that, within six months, the plastic must be disintegrated into bits smaller than two millimeters and that biodegradation must have progressed so that at least 30 percent of the carbon has been converted by microorganisms into carbon dioxide (ASTM D7081). Neither BPI nor Vinçotte yet offer certification for this, so any company making this claim would be basing it on their own testing.
A Look at Bioplastics on the Market Today
The following compares the certifications and other environmental merits of some contemporary bioplastics grouped according to the source material (i.e. feedstock). Although starch and cellulose are actually biopolymers found in the natural world which can be converted into plastics (like packing peanuts which dissolve in water), the following discussion is limited to biopolymers synthesized by microorganisms in industrial settings because they represent the frontier of bioplastics and can be processed on the same equipment as conventional plastics.
Be mindful that you can’t rely on the internationally-recognized numbered chasing arrows system to identify bioplastics. Nearly all bioplastics fall under the “#7 OTHER” label which is a catchall for plastics not made of the conventional resin types, labeled #1 – #6.
Just one company worldwide claims to make bioplastics that meet ASTM’s marine biodegradable standard, Metabolix based in Massachusetts.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are biodegradable monomers, naturally made by bacteria during fermentation of sugar, which can be combined to make high molecular weight polymers suitable for plastics. Metabolix is using bacteria genetically altered to produce high yields of PHAs from the sugar in corn kernels. The resulting biopolymer, Mirel™, is pure PHAs except for proprietary additives mixed in to impart desired properties. According to company spokesperson Lynne Brum, the additives do not include bisphenol-A, phthalates or nonylphenols which have been linked to health problems in lab animals or humans.
Various Mirel™ resins are available for fashioning into many typically disposable items, such as eating utensils, food storage tubs, jars and lids. All are certified for industrial composting, and some are also certified for home composting and/or biodegradation in agricultural soil or fresh water.
However, only the thinnest film grades of Mirel™, appropriate for making carryout bags, yard waste/kitchen compost bags and agricultural film, supposedly meet marine biodegradable standards because greater material thickness would impede biodegradation.
As is true of conventional plastics and organic materials in general, Mirel™ will not biodegrade in landfills. Brum stated that although closed-loop recycling of Mirel™ is certainly possible, the company’s focus thus far has been on biodegradation as an end-of-life option.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a different biopolymer derived from corn through fermentation by bacteria that naturally produce lactic acid which is then tweaked to form polymers. The primary U.S.manufacturer, NatureWorks LLC, advertises that its PLA resin family, Ingeo,relies on no genetically-modified materials and uses 50 percent less energy and produces 60 percent fewer greenhouse gases than petroleum-based polymers. The range of possible applications is very wide, including clothing, durable goods like mobile phone casings, credit cards, drink bottles and all sorts of food packaging & food service items.
Although Ingeo does not biodegrade in any water or soil environments, it has received certifications for industrial composting. NatureWorks points out that used Ingeo is being recycled in a closed loop into new Ingeo, but recycling on a large scale is not yet feasible because Ingeo products lack a unique identification code and they have to be shipped to the sole recycler inNebraska.
An Italian company, Novamont, is manufacturing a family of biodegradable resins under the label MATER-BI® which do not necessarily qualify fully as bioplastics because unspecified “monomers” derived from “fossil fuels” can be used in the proprietary blends of ingredients which include cornstarch plus other renewables, like vegetable oils. Nevertheless, MATER-BI® resins are certified for industrial composting, and the company claims the feedstocks do not rely on genetically modified crops or deforestation. MATER-BI® can be made into a myriad of products including doggie poop bags, mulching film, shopping bags, bubble wrap, pens and rulers
Polyethylene (PE), the most ubiquitous plastic, is made by polymerizing ethylene synthesized from ethanol derived conventionally from petroleum, though synthesis of ethanol from plant sources is also possible. In Brazil, where sugarcane grows abundantly, a company namedBraskem is manufacturing ethylene instead from ethanol made from fermented sugarcane. Braskem touts that its ‘Green Ethylene’ is 100 percent renewable source-based and the resulting ‘Green PE’ resins are at least 84 percent renewable content.
Because Green PE is identical to that produced from petroleum, it can be made into the very same products and recycled together with conventional PE. However, this also means it is no more biodegradable than conventional PE in any environment and poses the same risks to the ocean food chain.
Nevertheless, Braskem asserts that Green PE merits its green label on other grounds, like the fact that growing sugarcane draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. For every kilogram of Green PE produced, 2.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide are supposedly sequestered in the resin. Also, 50 percent more ethanol can be fermented from sugarcane than from corn.
Are Plastics Really Convenient?
Single-use, disposable plastics were a direct outgrowth of industries developed during World War II and quickly became symbolic of the convenience of modern day living. The supply of fossil fuels felt endless at the time, and the fact that plastics could be made into just about anything and were so long-lasting seemed a good thing.
Nowadays, the prospect of mass conversion from conventional plastics to ones made from renewable sources is raising concerns typically centered on deforestation, monocultures, fresh water supplies, soil erosion, food supplies and food prices as arable land would be diverted to growing feedstock for bioplastics.
Bioplastics manufacturers like to point to the fact that the fraction of global food crops or farm acreage currently used to make bioplastics is miniscule, sidestepping the obvious question of what the realistic impacts would be if bioplastics ever replace conventional ones on a large scale. Consider that ethanol gas, for example, is already in competition with the food supply for available corn.
A research institute in Rotorua, New Zealand called Scion is experimenting with an alternative renewable feedstock, sewage sludge. The idea is that, by cooking sewage sludge, reusable substances can be recovered and converted into bioplastics as well as fertilizers and biofuels. However, the first pilot plant began operations just a year ago, so it will be a long while before the feasibility of making any plastics from sewage is known.
Even if the feedstock issues can be resolved, what to do with plastics at the end of their useful life looms as the more daunting problem. Global figures from 2011 say the world is currently consuming over 450 billion pounds of plastic products a year (99 percent from fossil fuels), and plastic industry experts expect demand to rise exponentially within the next five years.
Even without any change in average per capita consumption (~65 pounds/year), humanity and the planet will be burdened with well over 700 billion pounds ofadditional plastics each year by mid-century when the world’s population is expected to top nine billion.
Bioplastics designed to biodegrade in industrial composters are no doubt an important step in reducing the burden placed on landfills, although widespread municipal composting in less developed countries is, at best, a pipedream at this point. Furthermore, making plastics compostable does nothing to prevent the continuing buildup of plastics in the marine environment. Ocean plastics derive primarily from land-based sources, like street litter carried via storm drains which empty into rivers flowing into the sea.
While the development of marine biodegradable plastics should be encouraged, it is wishful thinking to assume they will ultimately be the solution. Marine biodegradable plastics do not just dissolve in seawater. ASTM’s marine biodegradable standard allows that decomposing plastics can linger in seawater for many months, ample time to endanger sea life by ingestion or entanglement. Furthermore, we know nothing yet about how bioplastics compare to conventional ones as vehicles for transferring oily toxins in seawater into the food chain.
It’s even conceivable that wide availability of marine biodegradable plastics would add to the volume of ocean plastics because labeling as marine biodegradable might encourage dumping at sea, even though any ocean dumping of plastics has been illegal since 1988 by international treaty (MARPOL Annex V).
Halting the flow of all types of plastics into the ocean is the most rational solution to the crisis of plastic ocean debris. On a local level, this simply entails placing secure lids on trash receptacles and well-designed grates across all storm drains and river mouths that outflow to the sea. On a societal level, however, this means a deliberate shift away from the throwaway culture that led to the exponential rise in the production of plastics in the first place.
After more than a half century of profligate consumption of plastics, we are face-to-face with the reality that there is nothing convenient about getting rid of it all and preventing it from trashing our oceans and contaminating the marine food web.
M&G Chemicals Launches Green Revolution in the Polyester Chain
SHANGHAI, M&G Chemicals announces today its decision to construct a
second-generation bio-refinery in the region of Fuyang, Anhui Province of China for the conversion of one
million metric tons of biomass into bio-ethanol and bio-glycols.
The project is expected to be realized through a joint-venture with Chinese company Guozhen which will
make available one million metric tons of straw biomass and use the lignin resulting as a by-product from
the bio-refinery to feed a 45 MW cogeneration plant which will be constructed at the same time as the
bio-refinery in the same site. M&G Chemicals will be majority partner of the bio-refinery and minority partner
of the power plant.
The bio-refinery will employ PROESATM technology licensed from Beta Renewables, a joint venture between
Biochemtex (a company belonging to the Mossi Ghisolfi Group), US private equity fund TPG and Danish
enzyme producer Novozymes.
The second-generation bio-refinery will be approximately four times the size (measured by volume of
biomass processed) of that built by Beta Renewables in Crescentino, Italy, which was recently inaugurated.
The plant, which is expected to require capital expenditures of approximately half a billion US dollars, is
expected to be brought on stream in mid 2015.
Necessary enzymes will be supplied by Novozymes, one of the world’s largest enzymes producers and one
of the partners in the Beta Renewables joint venture, which owns the rights of the PROESATM technology.
“This is the first act of a green revolution that M&G Chemicals is bringing to the polyester chain to
provide environmental sustainability to both PET beverage packaging and polyester textile,” said Mr. Marco
Ghisolfi, CEO of M&G Chemicals. “The timing and scope of our green polyester revolution and our
manufacturing entry in China from the green PET raw materials avenue is even more relevant considering
The Coca-Cola Company has announced plans to use PlantBottle™ packaging, which is partially made from
plants, for all of their PET plastic bottles across the globe by 2020,” Marco Ghisolfi added.
“M&G Chemicals is today taking a big step towards a bio-based society where biomass is used for
products like fuel, chemicals and plastics. We are incredibly excited to enable M&G Chemicals’ vision of
producing bio-plastics on a commercial scale and are looking forward to the long-term collaboration,”
says Thomas Videbaek, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Development in Novozymes.
“The second-generation bio-refinery and power cogeneration project is the core part of the Biomass
Utilization Park that Guozhen plans to build in Fuyang City. Fuyang is rich in biomass resources; Guozhen
is experienced in biomass collections and logistics; and M&G Chemicals owns the proven cutting-edge
technology. Our cooperation will open a new era of biomass utilization and provide an effective solution for
the full exploitation of biomass to tackle Chinese energy demand and environmental issues,” said Mr. Li
Wei, Chairman of Guozhen Group.
“Fuyang City is a large agricultural region in northwest Anhui Province. The crop planting area is up to 1.2
million hectares with 6 MMt/y of straw biomass available. The second-generation bio-refinery and power
cogeneration projects planned by M&G Chemicals and Guozhen Group are technologically advanced,
economically feasible and environmentally friendly. Fuyang City will provide full support to biomass collection,
site selection, and land acquisition with incentive policies,” said Mr. Lu Shiren, Standing Deputy Mayor of
Fuyang City, Anhui Province.
About M&G Chemicals
M&G Chemicals is among the three largest producers of PET resin for packaging applications in the world,
and the second largest in the Americas, in terms of nominal capacity with 1,600 kMT/year, and with almost
1.4 MMtons/year of installed prime capacity, and employs approximately 936 people in more than 14
locations in six countries around the world. In 2012 M&G Chemicals posted an annual revenue of 1,854
M&G Chemicals has manufacturing locations in Brazil, Mexico and the USA. Its plants in Suape (Brazil)
and Altamira (Mexico) are the two largest single lines and most efficient (measured in terms of operating
costs per metric ton) in the world and are based on proprietary technology. Through its engineering division
Chemtex, M&G Chemicals provides technological development, research and engineering services for the
construction of plants for customers in the polyester chain (including PET, polyester fibre and PTA
production) and LNG industries. These activities are also aimed at enabling the production of PET resin
100% made from renewable sources. M&G Chemicals is an affiliated entity with the Mossi Ghisolfi Group.
For further information: www.mg-chemicals.com
About Beta Renewables
Beta Renewables is a leader in the field of advanced biofuels and biochemical compounds at competitive
costs. It was established at the end of 2011 as a joint venture between Biochemtex, a company of the
Mossi Ghisolfi Group, and the U.S. fund TPG (Texas Pacific Group) with a total investment of 250 million
Euro (350 million dollars). At the end of 2012, Novozymes – world leader in the enzymes industry – became
a shareholder of Beta Renewables, with the acquisition of 10 percent of the shares, amounting to 90 million
Euro. Beta Renewables owns the PROESATM technology, applied to the field of biofuels and chemical
intermediates. Beta Renewables manages the plant in Crescentino (VC), the first commercial facility in the
world for the production of second-generation ethanol. For further information: www.betarenewables.com
Novozymes is the world leader in bioinnovation. Together with customers across a broad array of industries
we create tomorrow’s industrial biosolutions, improving our customers’ business and the use of our planet’s
resources. With over 700 products used in 130 countries, Novozymes’ bioinnovations improve industrial
performance and safeguard the world’s resources by offering superior and sustainable solutions for
tomorrow’s ever-changing marketplace. Read more atwww.novozymes.com
About Guozhen Group
Guozhen Group is a private enterprise in Anhui Province, East China. With total assets of US$ 800 million,
the group has been mainly involved in the business of environmental protection, natural gas, renewable
energy, health and real estate, operating biomass power plant and CNG filling stations in Fuyang city. For
further information: www.ahgze.com.cn
Brunswick Group – Hong Kong
Brunswick Group – Milan
M&G Chemicals – Europe:
SOURCE M&G Chemicals
EPCA: Biobased materials drive sustainability
The potential for alternative feedstocks and biobased chemicals in Europe is huge. But, the opportunities do not come without some key challenges that Europe needs to address.
Europe remains an important producer of chemicals on the global stage, but it has faced severe competition in recent years from a wave of lower-cost capacity in the Middle East. Now, another rival has emerged as the US reaps the benefits of large reserves of low-cost shale gas which has radically boosted its competitiveness.
“Europe has its own shale gas resources and these deserve to be explored and developed, if economically feasible, in an environmentally responsible and transparent manner,” states Peter Holicki, EPCA vice president and vice president of operations for Europe, Middle East & Africa at Dow Chemical. “Europe is well positioned to learn from the US experience in terms of best technologies and operational practices. It would be extraordinary if we do not look to the same possibilities for securing our own industrial competitiveness and future economic success,” he adds.
Tom Crotty, group director of corporate affairs at INEOS agrees. “If Europe misses out on shale gas development, it will be a huge mistake. It is essential,” he says emphatically. The pace of development is not going fast enough for Crotty, but INEOS is already taking steps to secure its own shale gas/ethane source for its cracker in Rafnes, Norway.
Under a 15-year shipping agreement with Denmark’s Evergas, three customised gas carriers are being built in China to transport ethane from Marcus Hook in Pennsylvania, US, to Rafnes. The vessels will enter into service in 2015 when a new ethane storage tank and expanded infrastructure at Rafnes is also expected to be commissioned. Investment is also being considered at the port in Grangemouth, UK, where INEOS operates its other gas cracker, to facilitate imports of US ethane.
European producers have been rationalising capacity to bolster their competitive position, and this will continue for the smaller, less efficient plants. But, the industry has also been considering alternatives to traditional production methods in a bid to address several factors, namely: the ongoing need to reduce emissions and energy use; expanding its use of renewable sources, and the ongoing volatility of oil-based feedstock prices.
BIOMASS PROJECTS COME ONSTREAM
Biomass and biobased feedstocks have been growing in importance and development. INEOS Bio has its own, proprietary, biomass technology and has been running a pilot plant for several years in Wisconsin, US. This year, the company, in partnership with New Plant Energy, has commissioned its first, full-scale commercial plant based on its gasification and fermentation technology which converts biomass from vegetative and wood waste to bio-ethanol and renewable power. Annual output is 24,000 tonnes/year of cellulosic ethanol and 6MW power. Crotty says INEOS Bio is looking to build a second facility in Europe, possibly in the UK.
Lars Hansen, president Europe of Danish industrial biotechnology firm Novozymes, says the availability of sustainably produced biomass in Europe is quite significant. “Studies have shown that if you take around 17% of the sustainable biomass available today, you can produce more than 60% of European gasoline,” Hansen says.
Novozymes is just one of 48 companies that are part of the European Commission’s €3.8bn ($5.0bn) Public Private Partnership (PPP) on biobased industries, proposed in July this year. The initiative – Bridge 2020 (Biobased and Renewable Industries for Development and Growth in Europe) – has been set up to accelerate the commercialisation of bio-based products in Europe. The Commission will invest €1bn, and industry €2.8bn, from 2014 to 2020 to boost market uptake of new biobased products that are made in Europe. It is envisaged that large-scale bio-refineries will be built in Europe as flagship projects, becoming a catalyst for future development work in different bio-residues and paving the way for the next generation of plants.
Hansen welcomes Bridge 2020 but suggests other criteria are also required to support and cherish international investment. These are the future availability of sustainable biomass; a review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) so that it focuses not just on food, but also on biomass for industrial production; and legislation to underpin demand and provide support for bio-products (advanced biofuels, bio-chemicals and bio-materials) in the first steps.
“The realisation that our agricultural potential is much bigger in Europe than has been perceived is crucial. Agriculture is a huge opportunity for rural development and job creation, and to address some of our energy issues. We need to look at agriculture as an opportunity, not a liability, and a mindset change is needed in political and public perception,” states Hansen.
CHALLENGES FOR BIOMASS
Daniele Ferrari, CEO of Italy’s Versalis, says by 2030, a significant proportion of overall EU demand for chemicals, energy, materials and fibres, will be fulfilled using biomass feedstock, although he believes biomass production areas will remain fragmented in Europe. “A key challenge for Europe is to manage mid-term constraints on biomass availability without jeopardising long-term sustainability of supply,” he says.
Versalis, which will be joining Bridge 2020 soon, is growing its own on-purpose biomass to feed its biobased chemical production. The company is building a biobased complex in Sardinia through its Matrica joint venture with Novamont. Matrica products will be available soon through two of the six planned facilities which will be operational by end 2013.
Other partnerships have been formed with Genomatica to produce bio-butadiene, with Yulex for guayule-based natural rubber, and with Pirelli in a joint research project on using guayule-based natural rubber in tyre production.
“Bio-butadiene is a significant example of unlinking the production process of a key building block material from a fossil source,” says Ferrari. He believes too that guayule, a desert shrub that produces latex and is adaptable to the Mediterranean climate, is the answer to Europe’s need to grow a renewable key raw material like natural rubber which today is totally imported.
Much progress is being made on biobased chemicals and one example of successful commercialisation is bio-succinic acid. Both BioAmber and Reverdia, a joint venture between the Dutch material and life sciences company DSM and French starch firm Roquette Freres, have made strategic advances here.
Last December, Reverdia started up the world’s first large-scale plant for sustainable succinic acid (Biosuccinium), which can be used to make polyurethanes (PU), polybutylene succinate (PBS), phthalate-free plasticisers, coating and composite resins, and Spandex/elastane fibres. The facility in Cassano Spinola, Italy, produces about 10,000 tonnes/year and is based on proprietary, low pH technology that converts sugar into succinic acid. According to a study by the Netherlands Copernicus Institute, Reverdia’s yeast-based process generates less waste and impurities than the bacteria-based route.
Reverdia’s general manager, Will van den Tweel, says the Cassano plant is a first step in the company’s strategy towards a larger production facility which is expected to be operational in early 2016. The company is evaluating locations worldwide and should make a selection towards the end of this year. Longer-term, Reverdia anticipates that, by 2020, multiple plants could be built via licensing alliances.
Although the existing market for succinic acid is small (about 30,000 tonnes/year for petrochemical-based product), the market for PBS, a fairly new biodegradable polymer, is expected to grow rapidly. “We are getting close to a tipping point where the market for PBS will grow significantly. Increasing product development is being done and we will get better economies of scale that will contribute to lower prices and accelerate growth,” says van den Tweel.
At present, PBS is 50% biobased and it could reach 100% in the future, once commercially available quantities of bio-butanediol (BDO) are available – PBS is made by reacting succinic acid with BDO. He says various technologies will be available to make bio-BDO in the future, once economies of scale are reached to be competitive with petrochemical-based BDO.
Another potential application for bio-succinic acid is in replacing adipic acid where it is virtually a “near drop-in” in molecule terms. Van den Tweel says this could open up opportunities in polyester polyols used in the foam, footwear, coatings, and automotive industry.
BioAmber’s chief commercial officer, Babette Pettersen, says the market for bio-succinic acid is projected to grow at 25-30% in the next 10 years based on the unique combination of performance, economics and sustainability that it offers across various applications. “Bio-chemicals offer a whole new chemistry set with competitive performance and different functionality. Customers are looking for performance; customers pay for performance; it is not just about being green,” she comments.
A successful initial public offering (IPO) in the US and France raised $80m to fund investment in what will be the world’s largest bio-succinic acid plant. The 30,000 tonne/year facility in Sarnia, Canada, will be mechanically complete in quarter four 2014. The company has been operating a 3,000 tonne/year commercial scale plant in France since 2010.
Some of the money raised will be used to scale up BioAmber’s process for converting succinic acid to BDO and further development of its C6 technology platform. Pettersen believes BioAmber could have commercial-scale production of bio-BDO within the next four years. Toll production of 2,000-4,000 tonne/year bio-BDO will start in the US by early 2015.
Support for bio-chemicals has undoubtedly grown, but, stresses Pettersen: “We need more initiatives to create and build awareness that biobased chemicals offer not only an improved environmental profile, but also differentiated performance and competitive economics, which is better for profit, people and planet.”
Bio-chemicals will be a significant complement to petrochemical-based products. But government policies and incentives, technology and market development, and consumers’ attitude will be major factors in how the biobased chemical industry evolves.
Japan: Bio-based materials develop on a wide front
Japanese chemical companies are focusing on the production of sustainable bio-based commodities in order to improve their environmental footprint
Chemical companies in Japan are joining the move towards plant-based feedstocks
US start-ups continue to make headlines with the development of technology platforms for bio-based chemicals, often with the support of major chemical producers.
But Japan’s leading chemical concerns are making their own strides towards sustainable chemistry. And as often as not they too are joining forces with Western technology providers.
The goal is to allow a shift away from oil and gas feedstocks for petrochemical intermediates, towards the use of renewable feedstocks, such as crop-derived sugars and celluloses.
Big brand names in the consumer goods, food and automotive sectors are providing a stimulus for development as they seek “greener”, more sustainable products with a strong marketing message.
But the chemical producers are also driving the move, as they seek a lower environment footprint and alternatives to increasingly expensive and volatile petrochemical feedstocks.
The range of bio-based intermediates is steadily expanding, but leading the way are bio-ethylene propylene and their polymer derivatives, bio-acrylic and adipic acids, and bio-butadiene and paraxylene.
Newer bio-materials, such as bio-succinic acid and farnesene, are also attracting a lot of attention.
Japanese companies active in this area include Mitsubishi Chemical and its subsidiary Mitsubishi Rayon, Toray Industries, Teijin, Mitsui & Co, Ajinomoto, Sojitz, Kuraray and Showa Denko.
Late last year, Toray announced that it has produced lab-scale samples of fully bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibre, using bio-paraxylene (bio-PX) produced in the US by Gevo and commercially available renewable monoethylene glycol (MEG).
The US technology company uses biomass-derived bio-isobutanol to make the bio-PX, using conventional chemical processes, which Toray subsequently converts to terephthalic acid.
The success of the trial, says Toray, “is proof that polyester fibre can be industrially produced from fully renewable biomass feedstock alone”. Toray is already active in the bio-polymer sector through its polylactic acid activities.
In June this year, Toray signed an offtake agreement with Gevo for bio-PX, to enable it to move to pilot-scale production of bio-PET and polyester fibre and to offer samples to business partners in 2013.
Ajinomoto is developing a bio-based synthetic rubber with tyre-maker Bridgestone
In another initiative, Toray is working with Ajinomoto to develop and commercialise a bio-based polyamide, based on 1,5-pentanediamine (1,5-PD), which it will produce from the amino acid lysine, itself derived from plant materials by Ajinomoto using fermentation technology.
The 1,5-PD is reacted with dicarboxylic acid to produce the bio-poly amide 56, which Toray says “is not only sustainable because it is plant based, but shows promise for highly comfortable clothing”.
Ajinomoto is also using its biotechnology fermentation expertise in a collaboration with tyre-maker Bridgestone. The two companies are developing bio-isoprene-based high-cis polyisoprene synthetic rubber for use in tyres.
In May they confirmed that they have successfully produced samples of the rubber. Bridgestone noted that the bio-based rubber could be “one of the means of diversifying raw material sources for tyres and a major catalyst for achieving the group’s goal of a sustainable society”. A decision on the potential for commercialisation will be taken next year, says Ajinomoto.
Kuraray has enhanced its renewable offering through a partnership with US-headquartered Amyris to replace petroleum-based feedstocks for polymer production. The renewable hydrocarbon building block, Biofene (farnesene), will replace conventional raw materials such as butadiene (BD) and isoprene.
Japanese chemical trader and producer Sojitz is also making moves into bio-based materials. Late last year it signed an agreement with US-based Myriant to market its bio-based succinic acid in Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan. Target sectors are plasticisers, polymers, urethanes and solvents.
As part of the agreement, Sojitz will build a commercial-scale, 150m lb/year (68,000 tonne/year) plant that will produce derivatives of bio-based succinic acid supplied by Myriant. The facility should be operational by 2015.
Sojitz says that: “By gaining access to Myriant’s bio-based succinic acid, we will be in a position to grow our business of green chemical derivatives.
This year, Sojitz signed an agreement with Brazil’s Braskem to sell its green polyethylene produced from sugar-derived ethylene in Japan and Asia.
The Japanese company aims to be selling 20,000 tonnes/year of the material within the next three years through its Sojitz Planet subsidiary.
Myriant is also supplying its bio-succinic acid to Showa Denko, in a deal signed in January this year.
The Japanese company will use the acid to make polybutylene succinate (PBS), a high-performance biodegradable polymer. It expects to use some 10,000 to 20,000 tonnes/year of the bio-derived succinic acid by the end of this year.
The PBS is made on a commercial scale at Showa Denko’s Tatsuno plant in Hyogo prefecture, and sells under the tradenames Bionolle and Bionolle Starcia, when compounded with starch.
Showa Denko is now providing film-grade samples of the material and test marketing to come customers, including Natur-Tek of the US.
Mitsui & Co has been making advances in bio-based materials on several fronts, notably in bio-succinic acid in partnership with Canada-based BioAmber, and in bio-polyethylene with Dow Chemical, in a joint project in Brazil.
The BioAmber deal was announced in November last year and involves Mitsui & Co and BioAmber establishing a joint venture to build a commercial scale production facility in Sarnia, Canada, to go on stream in 2013. The 70:30 BioAmber/Mitsui jv will subsequently consider projects in Thailand and then Brazil or North America, so that capacity will eventually total 164,000 tonnes/year.
The Thai plant is likely to be built also in partnership with PTT MCC Biochem, a joint venture between Mitsubishi Chemical and PTT of Thailand.
Mitsui has been an investor in BioAmber since 2009 and has supported its growth through capital increases.
It is putting $15m (€12m) into the new as-yet unnamed joint venture. It has also been carrying out pre-marketing activities for bio-succinic acid in Asia.
The aim of the project joint venture is to produce cost-competitive succinic acid and to promote its use in a variety of applications, including biodegradable resins and polyurethanes. The Sarnia unit will also produce the derivative products 1,4-butanediol and tetrahydrofuran.
Also in 2011, Mitsui signed up with Dow Chemical to acquire a 50% stake in Dow’s Brazilian subsidiary Santa Vitoria Acucar e Alcool (SVAA) and form a joint venture aimed at production of biopolymers, notably bio-polyethylene, made from renewable sugar-cane derived ethanol. Mitsui’s initial investment is $200m.
The move, says Mitsui, will “enhance further development of important opportunities in securing sugarcane-based resources for Mitsui’s green chemical business”. In green chemicals, Mitsui’s goal “is to contribute to industry and society by securing a stable supply of renewable resources as well as by producing low environmental impact chemicals for those resources”.
While now confirmed figures have been released, observers expect a 350,000 tonnes/year PE plant could be operation by 2015.
Sojitz will take bio-succinic acid from a new plant Myriant is building in Louisiana, US
The past year has also seen Mitsubishi Chemical form several strategic alliances with key players in the bio-sector.
Last April, the Japanese major agreed an exclusive supply agreement with renewable firm BioAmber and its Asian distributor Mitsui & Co for bio-based succinic acid.
They also started a feasibility study for the construction of a plant alongside Mitsubishi’s planned polybutylene succinate (PBS) facility in Thailand.
That same week, Mitsubishi Chemical unveiled a joint venture with US-based Genomatica to produce bio-based butanediol (BDO) and other renewable chemicals. This included plans for their first commercial bio-BDO plant in Asia, using Genomatica’s technology. Mitsubishi also made an equity investment in the company as part of Genomatica’s recently-announced $45m Series C-1 funding.
“Asia is the fastest-growing chemicals market in the world and we see great potential to deliver bio-based chemicals to this market as a growing complement to our current conventionally-sourced chemicals,” said Hiroaki Ishizuka, representative director of Mitsubishi Chemical. “We believe that a strategic partnership with Genomatica will provide market-leading economics and quality which will benefit both parties.”
In November 2011, meanwhile, Mitsubishi Rayon and its subsidiary Lucite International announced the development of biomass as a feedstock for methyl methacrylate (MMA). Commercial production of the raw material for MMA was expected by 2016.
They aim eventually to produce 50% of their MMA monomer output using biomass.
Developments such as those discussed above will inevitably help Japan in its goal of moving to a 20% share of bio-based polymers in overall consumption by 2020.
But the aim is wider than this, and there is scope to extend bio-based materials globally as technology advances and consumers demand more sustainable products.
27 September 2013 [Source: ICB]
Author: John Baker and Andy Brice
Sustainable Packaging and Recycling
The “Jesus” Molecule: Paraxylene
The Coca-Cola Company invests in Gevo, Virent and Avantium partnerships, in the race to develop renewable plastic bottling entirely from renewables.
There’s been an awful lot of press this week about progress in the search for the God particle. That’s the subatomic Higgs Boson — a key, but as yet undetected, anchor in the standard model of the universe.
Then there’s the Jesus molecule. As in, “Kind lord Jesus in Heaven, grant me an affordable way to make one of those.”
It’s renewable PX, also known as your friend, paraxylene — a key, but as yet undiscovered at affordable cost, anchor in the production of plastic bottles entirely from renewables. (“PX” also accidentally looks not entirely unlike the Chi-Rho, one of the earliest symbols for Jesus Christ.)
That’s the story for Main Street. Here’s the story for Wall Street. It’s the key molecule to unlocking a global market for renewables of 54 million metric tons, and an annual trade of $100 billion.
The search for renewable PX took a new twist yesterday in New York, when the lt Coca-Cola Company turned on the klieg lights to announce multi-million dollar investment and partnership agreements with Gevo (GEVO), Virent and Avantium. The goal? To accelerate development of the first commercial solutions for its next-generation PlantBottle packaging, using renewable PX.
Since introduced in 2009, the Company has already distributed more than 10 billion first-generation PlantBottle packages in 20 countries worldwide with up to 30 percent renewable content. With this announcement, Coke aims for 100 percent plant-based packaging, at scale, by mid-decade.
The goal with each of these three agreements is to ensure that the companies a) produce the materials that Coke needs, b) produce them in big quantities, and c) as soon as possible, please.
Coke and its 3 renewable PET shops
From left: Virent CEO Lee Edwards, Gevo CEO Pat Gruber, Coke VP Ron Frazier, and Avantium CEO Tom van Aken
What is Coke plastic bottling? It is a material called PET (For you Digest purists: polyethylene terephthalate. Say that three times real fast.) For now, key in on that polyethylene, then that ethylene. It’s a form of polyester that is see-through, and is an excellent barrier material. Not much gets through these little molecules.
Accordingly, it’s become the third most widely-produced polymer in the world, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PET makes up about 20 percent of the world’s polymer production, and about 30 percent of that PET goes into making plastic bottles.
In short, Coke and Pepsi have a big stake in a big game.
Over the past few years, both companies have been working flat-out to produce a plastic bottle made entirely from renewables. Two years ago, Coke came out with its first-gen PlantBottle technology.
Ok, here’s where the story will get a little technical, so grab a snack and a pencil.
To make a partially-renewable PET, Coke is using about 30 percent MEG (that is, mono-ethylene glycol), which it is making from biomass already. The other 70 percent comes from PTA (purified terephthalic acid).
In other words, MEG+PTA = plastic bottle.
To date, they still have been using traditional fossil materials for the PTA. That’s where Coke’s announcement makes waves.
OK, how do you make PTA from renewables?
Well, to make PTA, you have to make something called paraxylene, it’s the principal precursor. In the industry, it’s known as PX. And bottle production chews up about 98 percent of global paraxylene production each year. (Read this, and then forget it: Basically, it’s a benzene ring, with a pair of methyl molecules attached to it.)
What you need to know is that PX is a hydrocarbon.
Why not just use, say, polyethylene?
Good news, Coke does, in Odwalla juice products. Works for juice in the fridge. Does not work for products outside of the fridge, especially carbonated ones.
What about some other molecules?
Well, there’s PEF. That’s a new bio-plastic that Avantium makes, using its YXY chemical catalytic technology. Hence, Coke’s interest in Avantium.
First milestones in that agreement include the start-up of an Avantium PEF pilot plant, officially opened on December 8th in Geleen, the Netherlands. It is expected that other large co-development partners will join from early 2012.
Back to the PX, then. The tip-offs.
OK, turns out that, according to all of the 30 or so companies they looked at, Virent and Gevo had the best available technology (available for co-development, that is) that can make paraxylene.
That’s something that several astute Digest readers picked up at the time of Gevo’s last analyst presentation:
“Production ramp on pace. The retrofit of Gevo’s first commercial plant in Luverne remains on track for a 1H12 start-up. The 500,000 liter/year plant at the South Hampton facility should come online by year-end, initially producing jet fuel, and later, gasoline and paraxylene (for PET applications) to support certification processes. Gevo expects to receive ASTM certification for its jet fuel in 2013. Management affirmed the target of 350 million gallons in 2015, unchanged from the IPO.”
In fact, back in March it has already announced a first paraxylene production deal.
Back in July, Virent tipped its hand as well:
“Virent says that producing PET from waste such as corn stover and pine residuals is more difficult than from sugars but that it can be done. The company makes paraxylene, a PET feedstock, from sugars. Expectations are that its commercial scale facility will be online in late 2014.”
As far back as June, Digest readers had an early tip from Avantium:
“Avantium is building a pilot plant to demonstrate its YXY technology which enables the cost effective production of Furanics building blocks for green materials and fuels. This will facilitate the development and commercialization of Avantium’s next-generation polyester: PEF…Avantium has demonstrated that PEF has numerous superior properties when compared with PET, including lower permeability of oxygen, carbon-dioxide and water and an enhanced ability to withstand heat.”
The business case
Here’s the good news, from our report last June on paraxylene and its opportunities:
“In the case of a Gevo-retrofitted plant, the biorefiner can produce biobutanol plus co-products, or paraxylene and the same co-products– to give one example. Turns out, in renewable fuels as well as elsewhere, it takes two (products) to tango. Pricing moves around in these volatile markets, but as a rule of thumb, paraxylene prices at around a 25 percent premium to ethanol (after taking into account the lower yields of isobutanol, per ton of feedstock). PET sells for roughly a 125 percent premium.”
Botttom line, you can make good money in this market. Things, as it turns out, do go better with Coke.
What’s a Pepsi to do?
Well, over at Pepsi they haven’t tipped their hand, except that last March they declared that they had a solution in hand of their own to produce renewable PET. This week, they said they were planning a pilot run of up to 200,000 bottles using their new process, but no one is sure when this will reach commercial scale, or even if the Pepsi process will be commercially feasible.
In Coke’s case, it is looking like 2014-15.
Reaction from Gevo
“We are extremely gratified to have won the confidence of The Coca-Cola Company and are excited to support Coca-Cola’s sustainable packaging goals with this agreement to develop and commercialize technology to produce paraxylene from bio-based isobutanol,” said Patrick Gruber, CEO of Gevo. “New technologies need champions. The Coca-Cola Company is in a unique position to drive and influence change in the global packaging supply chain with this development. You cannot ask for a better champion than one of the most respected and admired consumer brands.”
Reaction from Avantium
“Our YXY solution for the packaging industry creates a new biobased plastic with exceptional functional properties at a competitive price. We believe it is economically viable and has a significantly reduced environmental footprint,” said Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium. “We have produced PEF bottles with promising barrier and thermal properties and look forward to our work with Coca-Cola to further develop and commercialize PEF bottles. Our production process fits with existing supply and manufacturing chains and we are targeting commercial production in the next few years.”
Dutch research and technology company Avantium has developed a patented technology YXY to produce 100% biobased PEF bottles. Currently PET is the most widely used oil-based polyester. Based on the performance of the new PEF material, Avantium believes PEF will become the next-generation biobased polyester.
Reaction from Virent
“The company is targeting early 2015 for the opening of its first full-scale commercial plant. Virent’s long term agreements with The Coca-Cola Company are pioneering milestones in the commercialization of our technology to produce plant-based materials” said Virent CEO Lee Edwards. “Our patented technology features catalytic chemistry to convert plant-based sugars into a full range of products identical to those made from petroleum, including bio-based paraxylene – a key component needed to deliver 100% plant-based PET packaging.”
Reaction from Biofuels Digest
I’d like to buy the world a home
and make it very green
grow apple trees and honeybees
to make my bottles clean
I’d like to teach the world to synth
in perfect laboratories
I’d like to buy PX for Coke
from these three companies.
View Coca’ Cola’s actual “I’d like to teach the world to sing”commercial, in a 1970s holiday incarnation, here.
The “Jesus” Molecule: Paraxylene was posted on lt AltEnergyStocks.com.
German scientists have found a way to create a polyester compound from bacteria, and it may chance how bioplastics are manufactured.
Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a thermoplastic polyester which occurs naturally in bacteria as Ralstonia eutropha and
Even though PHB is biodegradable and is not dependent on fossil resources, this bioplastic has been traditionally too expensive
to produce to replace petroleum-based plastics.
New research reported in BioMed Central’s open access journalMicrobial Cell Factories describes an alternative method of producing PHB in microalgae.
PHB is synthesised in bacteria from acetyl-CoA using the enzymes ß-ketothiolase, acetoacetyl-CoA reductase and PHB
synthase. The genes coding for these proteins were inserted into a diatom (Phaeodactylum tricornutum) resulting in expression
of the enzymes and synthesis of PHB in cytosolic granules. After only seven days, about 10% of the dried weight of the diatoms
Dr. Franziska Hempel and Prof Uwe Maier from the LOEWE-Centre Synmikro in Marburg, and Prof Alexander Steinbüchel from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, explained, “Millions of tons of petroleum-based plastic are consumed every year worldwide
causing immense amounts of waste that can take thousands of years to biodegrade — if at all.
Bacterial fermentation is expensive and while people have introduced a similar system into plants, plants are relatively slow
growing and biofuel agriculture uses up valuable land. P. tricornutum needs little more than light and water to grow and can produce similar amounts of PHB to the plant systems in weeks rather than months.”
In the quest to find biodegradable and renewable sources of plastics these photosynthetic bioreactors may well provide an answer.
The article is available at www.microbialcellfactories.com
10/16/2011 — ScienceDaily.com—
Greencol Taiwan Corporation Bio-MEG Plant, Taiwan, China
Project type Bio-MEG manufacturing plant
Location Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Order year October 2010
Owner and Operator Greencol Taiwan Corporation
Partners Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Taipei-based China Man-made Fiber Corporation
Greencol Taiwan Corporation (GTC) announced that it planned to build a new plant to manufacture bio-mono ethylene glycol
(bio-MEG) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in October 2010.
The plant will have a capacity of 100,000t per year, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.
GTC, which will also operate the plant, is a 50:50 joint venture between Nagoya-based Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC) and
Taipei-based China Man-made Fiber Corporation. Upon completion, GTC will become the first domestic manufacturer of bioethylene derivatives.
TTC will be responsible for the upstream and downstream activities of the new plant, handling the production and marketing of
The company is planning to build a global integrated supply chain for Bio-PET with the construction of the new plant.
Bio-MEG produced at the plant will be supplied to Asian PET manufacturers.
TTC will then off-take the PET manufactured on a tolling basis and market it to companies in Europe, Japan and the US.
It will also market Bio-PET based textiles for car interiors and develop Bio-PET based bottles with customers.
The company aims to increase the demand for Bio-PET based sustainable products around the world.
“The plant will have a capacity of 100,000t per year, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.”
New Jersey-based Petron Scientech was selected as the process technology provider for the plant.
The company specialises in commercially tested technologies for producing basic chemicals for industrial use.
The plant will use Petron’s ethanol to bio-ethylene technology.
Petron will also be responsible for providing design and other services during and after construction.
The new plant will use bio-ethanol produced from sugar cane as feedstock.
Using ethanol for the production of PET is more economical compared to petroleum.
Ethanol produces high-grade ethylene and has similar properties as that of petroleum-based ethylene.
Plants that use ethanol can achieve incremental expansion of ethylene capacity at lower costs. In addition, the use of
ethanol does not produce any of the by-products that are usually produced from petroleum feedstock.
The bio-ethanol required will be supplied by Petrobras, which signed a ten-year supply agreement with TTC in October
Under the agreement, Petrobras Biocombustível, a subsidiary of Petrobras, will supply the new plant with 143,000m³ of
The supply agreement is worth $820m and is the first long-term agreement signed by Petrobras.
“Bio-ethanol will be supplied by Petrobras, which signed a ten-year supply agreement in October 2010.”
PET contains 70% PTA and 30% MEG. In Bio-PET, the 30% of MEG is replaced by bio-MEG made from sugar cane.
Bio-PET is similar in quality to petroleum-based PET, but is more environmentally friendly. In the form of bio-ethylene
oxide, it is used as an intermediate chemical for the production of a range of surfactants.
As bio-ethylene glycol, it is used in antifreeze and PET pellets.
North Carolina-based Chemtex International was awarded the engineering, construction and procurement contract for the
Biofuels and green downstream technology is a key business area of Chemtex.
The company will build the plant in partnership with Taipei-based Fu-Tai Engineering Company.
PET is used in a variety of applications ranging from beverage bottles, food packaging films, textiles and vehicle
“Bio-PET is similar in quality to petroleum-based PET, but is more environmentally friendly.”
In 2009, global demand for PET was 45 million tons, and is expected to increase at an annual rate of 8% in the next five
By 2015, global demand for PET is forecasted at 60 million tons per year.
However, demand for sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based PET is growing steadily.
At present, only 200,000t of Bio-PET is available in the market each year.
Global demand for Bio-PET is estimated to rise to 2.25-3 million tons per year, and is expected to account for 5% of the
global market. TTC expects to tap into the projected gap in demand with the production and marketing of 200,000t of
Greencol Taiwan Corporation’s new bio-mono ethylene glycol plant is located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
The new plant will produce 100,000t of bio-MEG a year.
With the construction of the new plant Toyota aims to establish a global integrated supply chain for Bio-PET.
Global demand for Bio-PET is estimated to reach 60million tons a year by 2015.
Dow & Mitsui Plan Brazil Bioplastics Plant
Dow Chemical is joining forces with Japanese trading powerhouse Mitsui to build the largest integrated bioplastics
production plant in the world.
Construction on the first phase of the project in Brazil — a 190,000 metric tons-per-year ethanol mill — is expected
to begin this fall.
Ethanol will be made from sugar cane grown on estates already owned by Dow in Santa Vitória, Brazil.
In the first phase of the collaboration, Mitsui is buying half ownership of the sugar cane plantation
at a cost of $200 million, according to Reuters. In the next phase, starting in 2012, Dow and Mitsui will build a
“The flexible packaging market is currently booming, not only in Brazil but throughout Latin America,” Luis Cirihal,
Dow’s business director for Green Alternatives and New Business Development for Latin America, told Design News.
“At the same time, consumers are increasingly turning to sustainable solutions.
For these reasons, we are certain that there is ample market demand and growth potential for biopolymers, particularly
within the high-performance flexible packaging, hygiene, and medical markets.”
The development is fascinating for a number of reasons, particularly because it validates a significant shift in feedstocks
from petroleum and natural gas to renewableresources, in this case sugar.
Clearly, the volatility of oil pricing is a major concern long-term.
The importance of the carbon footprint argument is expected to grow, with increased awareness by consumers and
potentially government regulators.
Many regulatory bodies in Japan and Europe are already signaling increasing concern over the impact of hydrocarbons on
Dow’s involvement is noteworthy because it is one of the largest producers of plastics in the world.
The company has shifted from low-margin commodity plastics in recent years toward specialty chemicals and polymers
that command higher prices and leverage Dow’s technical capabilities.
This announcement clearly signals a strong interest to stay in polyethylene, and the economics are also interesting.
In a speech at the Annual Technical Conference of the Society of Plastics Engineers in 2008, Dow executive
vice president and CTO William F. Banholzer said: “The utilization of biofuels as a primary feedstock for production of
commodity chemicals will most likely be constrained by a shortage of cropland, limited capital, and the availability of
Absent unforeseen technological innovations or significant government mandates, this situation is unlikely to change
on a wholesale basis in coming decades.”
The comments were surprising because Dow had announced its first major project to make polyethylene
from sugar feedstock in Brazil in 2007.
That effort later derailed because of problems at its partner, CrystalSev. The sugar-growing properties announced in
the Mitsui deal are the same properties developed for the CrystalSev JV.
In an interview after his Antec presentation, Banholzer told Design News that Dow’s plan to make polyethylene
from sugarcane in Brazil made sense because the company needed more capacity in South America, and sugar cane
was a competitive feedstock in South America.
It would be interesting to see Dow’s projections of the economics today. In 2008, Bahnholzer said: “For corn ethanol
to compete with Middle East ethane on an energy basis, it would have to sell for a mere $0.15/gal.
Ethanol from corn costs about $1.74 per gallon to produce.” No data is available on what the cost will be for sugar
ethanol produced in Brazil.
According to the Soybean and Corn Adviser, the average price of ethanol in Brazil at the pump is R$2.22 per liter,
or approximately $5.27 per gallon.
Dow’s cost, of course, would be less because there are no distribution costs and no middlemen.
Plastics made from the Dow-Mitsui plant will be chemically identical to plastics made from hydrocarbon feedstocks.
They will not be biodegradable.
Plastic soda bottles made from sugar-derived polyester are already making a big splash, with the key players being
Braskem and Coca-Cola.
Most bioplastics made in the US are polymerized from corn and have chemical properties different from well-known types
PepsiCo Develops World’s First 100 Percent Plant-Based, Renewably Sourced
Building upon its heritage as an innovator and leader in environmental sustainability, PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) today announced
it has developed the world’s first PET plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources, enabling the
company to manufacture a beverage container with a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
PepsiCo’s “green” bottle is 100 percent recyclable and far surpasses existing industry technologies. The bottle is made from
bio-based raw materials, including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. In the future, the company expects to broaden the renewable sources used to create the “green” bottle to include orange peels, potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural
byproducts from its foods business. This process further reinforces PepsiCo’s “Power of One” advantage by driving a strategic beverage innovation via a food-based solution.
“This breakthrough innovation is a transformational development for PepsiCo and the beverage industry, and a direct result of our commitment to research and development,” said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO, Indra Nooyi. “PepsiCo is in a unique position, as
one of the world’s largest food and beverage businesses, to ultimately source agricultural byproducts from our foods business to manufacture a more environmentally-preferable bottle for our beverages business – a sustainable business model that we believe brings to life the essence of Performance with Purpose.”
Combining biological and chemical processes, PepsiCo has identified methods to create a molecular structure that is identical
to petroleum-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which results in a bottle that looks, feels and protects its product identically to existing PET beverage containers.
PepsiCo will pilot production of the new bottle in 2012. Upon successful completion of the pilot, the company intends to move directly to full-scale commercialization.
“As You Sow applauds PepsiCo’s innovative packaging design,” said Conrad Mackerron, Senior Program Director of As You Sow, a San Francisco-based foundation, which promotes corporate social responsibility through shareholder engagement. “By reducing reliance on petroleum-based materials and using its own agricultural scraps as feedstock for new bottles, this advancement should deliver a double win for the environment and PepsiCo.”
With this development, PepsiCo continues its leadership position in environmental sustainability and driving progress against
the global goals and commitments it announced in 2010 to protect the Earth’s natural resources through innovation and more
efficient use of land, energy, water and packaging. Specific examples of PepsiCo’s recent environmental innovations and progress include:
•SunChips developing the world’s first fully compostable bag and using solar power at the Modesto manufacturing facility to take some of the plant off the electrical grid;
•light-weighting Aquafina’s bottles with the introduction of the Eco-Fina bottle in 2009, the lightest bottle of its size among U.S. bottled water brands;
•Naked Juice transitioning to a 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottle with the introduction of its reNEWabottle™ –
the first beverage, distributed nationally in the U.S., to do so;
•achieving “positive water balance” in India in 2009 – through direct seeding initiatives, the company replenished nearly six billion liters of water across India, exceeding the total intake of approximately five billion liters of water by its manufacturing facilities;
•introducing the Dream Machine recycling initiative, to provide greater access to on-the-go recycling receptacles and help increase the U.S. beverage container recycling rate from 34 percent to 50 percent, by 2018;
•launching a groundbreaking pilot program, using low-carbon fertilizers that drastically reduce Tropicana’s lifecycle carbon footprint; and
•Walkers becoming the first company in the world to display a carbon reduction logo on a consumer product, representing a commitment to become more sustainable and transparent.
To download high-resolution images of the new, 100 percent plant-based bottle, and/or related video and images, visit http://multimedia.pepsico.com.
PepsiCo offers the world’s largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines that
generate more than $1 billion in annual retail sales each. Our main businesses — Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay, and
Pepsi Cola — also make hundreds of other enjoyable and wholesome foods and beverages that are respected household names throughout the world. With net revenues of approximately $60 billion, PepsiCo’s people are united by our unique commitment to sustainable growth by investing in a healthier future for people and our planet, which we believe also means a more successful
future for PepsiCo. We call this commitment Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo’s promise to provide a wide range of foods and beverages for local tastes; to find innovative ways to minimize our impact on the environment, including by conserving energy
and water usage, and reducing packaging volume; to provide a great workplace for our associates; and to respect, support, and
invest in the local communities where we operate. For more information, please visit www.pepsico.com.
•PepsiCo Press Releases
Italian BioPET- M&G is focusing a PET % from renewable resources
Biagio Bove of Chemtex Italy ( M & G Group) explained the state of the art of the research that the company is conducting in the laboratories in Rivalta Scrivia towards the production of PET entirely from biomass.
Not only the synthesis of ethylene glycol (or ethylene glycol, eg) FROM SUGAR, then, but also of terephthalic acid (PTA)
by lignin. To arrive at large-scale production of Italian BioPET it will take no less than a couple of years.
The Bio-PTA is a still open challenge, but it’s a question of time. A totally renewable polyester is possible, without affecting the
food chain thanks to biomass Lignin – Cellulosic.
The PET from biomass (renewable resources) will be eco-sustainable, easily recyclable and with all the features of the PET
derived from fossil fuels.
Will the PLA heat resistant have still a meaning?
Genetically engineered virus converts methane to ethylene
A team of molecular biologists and materials scientists said Monday they had genetically engineered a virus to convert methane to ethylene more efficiently and at a significantly lower temperature than previously possible. Methane gas is still produced by steam cracking, a high-temperature, energy-intensive and expensive industrial process first developed in the 19th century. In this process, hydrocarbons found in crude oil are broken down into a range of simpler chemical compounds. The search for more efficient, less expensive approaches to the production of ethylene has gone on for more than three decades, and although some progress has been made no new techniques have yet proved commercially viable.
Now a small group of researchers at Siluria Technologies, a Silicon Valley startup is reporting progress in commercializing a nanoscience-based approach to ethylene production. Their technique for producing ethylene depends on the ability of a genetically engineered virus to coat itself with a metal that serves as a catalyst for an ethylene producing chemical reaction.
The key is that the virus can create a “tangle of catalyst coated nanowires – the researchers call it a hairball – that provide so much surface area for chemical reactions to occur that the energy needed to produce the reactions is much reduced. The basic process, or chemical reaction, known as oxidative coupling of methane, was an area of intense research for the petrochemical industry beginning in the late 1980s.
Researchers had some success but never achieved enough of an improvement in energy efficiency to justify displacing the traditional steam-cracking process. With its hairballs of virus-created nanowires coated with unspecified metals, Siluria has been able to create ethylene-producing reactions at temperatures 200 to 300 degrees lower than previously achieved, said Erik Scher, a chemist who is one of the company’s researchers.
The company won’t say specifically what the coating is, but say that magnesium oxide is an example of the kind of metals involved. The work is based on a technique for genetically engineering viruses pioneered by Angela Belcher, who leads the Biomolecular Materials Group at MIT.
The technique involves manipulating the genes of a virus, in this case one that usually attacks bacteria, so that it will collect and coat itself with inorganic materials, like metals and even carbon nanotubes. The viruses can be used to create a dense tangle of metal nanowires, and the potential applications for these engineered materials are remarkably diverse. Dr. Belcher’s lab is busy with research on more efficient batteries and solar cells, biofuels, hydrogen separation and other fuel cell technologies, CO2 sequestration, cancer diagnostic and therapeutic approaches, as well as an effort to create a catalyst that can convert ethanol to hydrogen at room temperature.
In contrast, the Siluria researchers said their advance in developing catalysts is the most significant step yet toward commercialization of the bacteriophage technique. “We are learning from nature, but going to new places in the periodic table and working with the same tools and techniques to use materials that nature has not worked with,” said Alex Tkachenko, a molecular biologist who is a co-founder of Siluria. The researchers acknowledged that they do not yet have a complete scientific understanding of the surface behavior of their new catalyst.
Onwards and upwards with bio products
Growth in bioplastics despite crisis; industry remains optimistic
Berlin – 1 June 2010 – Green investments are the best way to beat the crisis – a sum- mary of the findings of a poll conducted by the European Bioplastics Association of its members. The bulk of companies questioned reported healthy growth figures for 2009, in some cases considerably more than 5% up on the previous year. The figures fulfilled
– and sometimes exceeded – expectations. In May, 38 companies, among them many world leaders in polymer manufacture, revealed how they had fared in 2009 and voiced their expectations for the current year and 2011.
47% of companies recorded growth in turnover, while another 32% managed to at least draw level and only 10% of companies posted losses. 70% of those polled had their expectations confirmed, as against a quarter of firms questioned who were not able to live up to their own forecast. Companies see a positive trend overall for both this year and the year to come: in all, 80% of those polled were optimistic, with 20% anticipating satisfactory results, 40% good results and 20% excellent results. Based on these healthy expectations, two thirds of the companies will be increasing their investment in the sector this year.
Biodegradability and the bio-based component are what distinguish bioplastics from con- ventional plastics. Many applications, – packaging materials, mulch films, shopping bags and others – are both biodegradable and bio-based products. Bioplastics are also increasingly used in durable products, providing the material for cell phone housings, car parts and many other products. In this way the carbon derived from the carbon dioxide taken in by plants is re- moved from the atmosphere for a period of years. Climate protection and reduced consump- tion of fossil fuels are important drivers of technological improvements and market evolution. The advantages of biodegradability are particularly evident in products with a short life-span.
“This is a clear indication of the strength of green innovation and the companies driving it forward,” says Andy Sweetman, Chairman of the European Bioplastics board. With a market share of less than one percent, bioplastics still represent a niche product, despite generally high rates of growth. “What is missing are incentives from an effective stimulus programme to boost the market,” adds Harald Kaeb, political consultant to the Association. “Then com- panies would be better placed to finance their innovations and the necessary expansion in capacity.” It would also give a strong signal to both large plastics users and consumers. The sector is ready to expand further.
See graphs on the next pages.
European Bioplastics is the European association representing the interests of the industry along the complete bioplastics’ value chain. Its members produce, refine and distribute bioplastics i.e. plastics that are either bio-based, compostable, or both.
More information is available at http://www.conference.european-bioplastics.org
Tel: +49 (0) 30 28482 356, Fax: +49 (0)30 284 82 359, email@example.com
Did the year 2009 met, exceeded or failed your expectations?
How did the year 2009 compared to the year 2008 with regard to the development of turnover?
Tel: +49 (0) 30 28482 356, Fax: +49 (0)30 284 82 359, firstname.lastname@example.org
For the year 2010, do you expect investments of your company to:
Press Contact: page 3/3
Melanie Gentzik, Head of Communications, European Bioplastics, Marienstr. 19/20, 10117 Berlin, Tel: +49 (0) 30 28482 356, Fax: +49 (0)30 284 82 359, email@example.com
Sorona apparel biz grows 300% in last two years, Dupont
May 2010 (USA)
DuPont is executing a rapid commercialization strategy in its Applied BioSciences business for a diverse portfolio of high-performance, renewable products that address the needs of large markets, DuPont leaders told security analysts and investors. As a result, the company has set goals for the Applied BioSciences business of $1 billion in revenue and $250 million in pretax earnings by 2015.
“DuPont is uniquely positioned to lead in industrial biotechnology. We are connecting our core technology capabilities to markets that can be transformed by our science and this strategy is beginning to pay off,” said Thomas M. Connelly, DuPont executive vice president and chief innovation officer. “The Applied BioSciences portfolio is developing solutions to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and continues to be one of the most significant growth opportunities in the company’s history.”
“We are seeing rapid growth and expansion from our first suite of biomaterials products while our biofuels programs have met technical and economic hurdles and advanced to the demonstration phase,” said Craig Binetti, president – DuPont Applied BioSciences. “As a result, we are confident in our goal to deliver substantial revenue and earnings growth for DuPont.”
Investors were invited to Tennessee to see the business’ first commercial biomaterials facility and its first demonstration biofuels facility, each of which is bringing DuPont Applied BioSciences technology to market. The DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products facility in Loudon, Tenn., produces 100 million pounds annually of Bio-PDO. The DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol demonstration facility in Vonore, Tenn., is preparing this second-generation biofuel technology for market.
Updates provided on the business portfolio included:
o Customer demand and adoption rates are growing rapidly for Bio-PDO and its Sorona polymer products across a wide range of markets. To meet this demand, DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products LLC announced last week a 35 percent capacity expansion for its Bio-PDO product.
o Sorona polymer operations have doubled since the last investors update in 2007 and now include four polymer facilities: two in North Carolina and two in China to supply the rapid growth momentum of the market.
o The Sorona apparel business has grown more than 300 percent in the last two years while Mohawk’s SmartStrand with DuPont™ Sorona renewably sourced polymer residential carpet line has doubled during the same period.
o DuPont launched its Sorona commercial carpet product offering last year.
o DuPont introduced its New Harvest omega-3 nutritional supplement into more than 600 GNC retail stores. New Harvest does not contain fish oil and is a vegetarian source of EPA – the long chain fatty acid shown to support heart health.
o DuPont continues technology development for its BioSurfaces portfolio.
o DuPont continues to develop strategies to bring its BioMedical technologies to market.
Company Focused on Bio-Butanediol Production Route
Former president and CEO of NatureWorks and veteran Lyondell Basell engineering manager join executive leadership team as company builds demonstration plant for bio-based BD
SAN DIEGO, April 15 /PRNewswire/ — Genomatica, a leading sustainable chemical company, announced today that two high-profile chemical industry leaders have joined the executive team to commercialize a robust portfolio of chemicals and chemical intermediates derived from renewable feedstocks. The company has appointed Dennis McGrew as executive vice president of business development and chief business officer, and Joseph Kuterbach as the vice president of operations, engineering and technology transfer. Both executives join at a critical juncture for the company, following the initial close of a $15 million fundraising round and just before the rapid scale-up of its flagship manufacturing process.
McGrew and Kuterbach join the executive team, which includes founder and CEO Christophe Schilling and Chief Technology Officer Mark Burk. Both McGrew and Kuterbach bring decades of direct chemical industry experience and relationships to their newly appointed roles. Most recently, McGrew served as president and CEO of NatureWorks, the global leader in bio-plastics, which he joined after a series of commercial executive roles at Dow Chemical, while Kuterbach is a career veteran of Lyondell Basell where he was most recently the manager of process engineering for butanediol, ethylene oxide, propylene oxide and acetyls.
“With an executive team of this caliber, Genomatica is poised to lead the market in commercializing sustainable chemicals,” said Patrick McCroskey, principal at TPG Biotech and member of Genomatica’s board of directors. “Since co-founding the company, Christophe Schilling has guided the team through successive milestones to perfect the platform while Mark Burk has achieved rapid success producing BDO
and other chemicals on the way. Combined with industry veteran board members William Baum, Warren Clark, and Robert Pangborn, the additions of Dennis McGrew and Joseph Kuterbach provide Genomatica with extensive chemical market expertise and foresight. The team’s combined network of industry relationships has driven considerable interest in the ‘sustainable chemicals’ vision that Genomatica is bringing to market.”
“Dennis McGrew and Joseph Kuterbach bring decades of direct experience in Genomatica’s target markets each with substantial careers with two of the largest chemical companies in the world,” said Christophe Schilling, president and CEO of Genomatica. “They are vital assets to the leadership team and to the company’s vision of commercializing bio-based BDO and other sustainable chemicals.”
Genomatica has begun the commercialization process of 1,4-butanediol ( BDO ) , a key raw material in the manufacturing of hundreds of plastic, rubber and fiber products. BDO has a worldwide annual production value estimated at more than $4 billion across the automotive, textile and consumer goods industries.
McGrew’s primary focus with Genomatica will be developing commercial partnerships and strategic relationships to bring Genomatica’s bio-manufacturing processes to commercial scale. He will focus on three types of customers: existing producers of BDO or other chemical intermediates, sugar producers or other upstream suppliers of low-cost feedstocks, and large consumers of BDO and its derivatives or other chemical intermediates, including fibers manufacturers, and plastic resin suppliers. McGrew will also look to facilitate relationships throughout supply chains to bring low-cost, performance-equivalent bio-based chemical intermediates to market.
McGrew served as CEO of NatureWorks from 2006 to 2008, attracting a new investor and securing capital to double its production capacity to 300 million pounds per year. From April 2004 to January 2006, McGrew served as NatureWorks’ vice president and chief marketing officer, gaining significant market traction by leading global commercial efforts for NatureWorks PLA packaging and Ingeo ( TM ) fibers, environmentally beneficial replacements for petroleum-based materials. He has more than two decades of sales, marketing and business development experience. McGrew served as Dow Chemical’s global commercial director for the Engineering Plastics business and commercial director for Dow Automotive Europe. He joined Dow in 1983 as a sales representative, and during his 20 year career with Dow, he held numerous sales, product management, marketing and business development roles with the organization.
Kuterbach has established himself as a 30-year veteran of the chemical industry with extensive management and process design, engineering, and operations experience. As Genomatica’s vice president of operations,
engineering and technology transfer, he will be responsible for driving the demonstration plant scale-up of
BDO and commercial scale-up of the technology with future customer-partners.
While at Lyondell Basell, Kuterbach was a recognized engineering leader having managed teams of process engineers, providing technical support, and driving capital expansions to the ethylene oxide plant, acetic acid and BDO units in Texas, as well as the propylene oxide plants in Texas, France, and the Netherlands. Kuterbach brings direct experience in the development of novel process technologies for chemicals such as
BDO, having managed a newly constructed BDO unit in the Netherlands, and provided the process design for the plant, along with transferring technical knowledge to the local staff and offering start-up support. His leadership and effort to troubleshoot operating problems and include technology improvements in the design of the new BDO unit resulted in a capital cost reduction of 10 percent.
Genomatica is a sustainable chemicals company developing groundbreaking technologies to transform chemical production processes through bio-manufacturing. The company targets chemicals that are essential to major industries and are incorporated into products that shape much of the world in which we live. With a proven, proprietary technology platform, Genomatica is creating a robust pipeline of biomanufacturing processes that targets chemicals with large existing markets. These processes are aimed to compete head-on with current petrochemical processes, delivering compelling cost advantages and sustainability through renewable feedstock sourcing and less energy intensive processes that will reduce the environmental footprint of the chemical industry while delivering enhanced profitability.
A privately held company, Genomatica is backed by top venture capital firms Alloy Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Mohr Davidow Ventures and TPG Biotech. Genomatica is based in San Diego.
NatureWorks Ingeo earns OK biobased rating
April 2010 (USA)
NatureWorks Ingeo biopolymer made from plants, not oil is the first polymer to earn a four-star “OK biobased” rating from the European certification organization Vinçotte of Vilvoorde, Belgium.
The Vinçotte OK biobased certification, which was introduced in September 2009, quantifies for consumers the amount of renewable carbon content in packaging materials and fibers, as well as in personal care, electronic, and other manufactured products. The Vinçotte OK biobased certification meets the ASTM D6866 standard for determining the renewable/biobased carbon content of products.
The certification recognizes four levels of renewable carbon content: one star for content comprised of between 20 to 40 percent biobased carbon, two stars for 40 to 60 percent, three stars for 60 to 80 percent, and four stars awarded for more than 80 percent biobased carbon content. According to the test, NatureWorks Ingeo plastic resin is made from 99 percent renewable plant sugars – that is, renewable carbon. (In actuality, all of the carbon is biobased, but 99% reflects the accuracy of the test.) Every grade of Ingeo resin 40 in all received the four-star certification.
“We are proud to announce the first OK biobased certificates, and we congratulate NatureWorks on its across-the-board four-star rating,” said Petra Michiels, contract manager for OK biobased. “With the Ingeo resins now certified, the four-star rating can be used as the foundation for downstream products, earning them an OK biobased rating.”
“The OK biobased star rating serves as a sustainability indicator for consumers by identifying materials and products that are helping to alleviate the environmental problems associated with fossil fuels and greenhouse gases,” said Steve Davies, director of corporate communications and public affairs, NatureWorks. “Symbols on packages and products relating to the environment, such as the OK biobased stars, inform and influence consumer buying decisions. NatureWorks is proud to have the highest OK biobased certification ranking for the entire family of NatureWorks resins supplied to the fibers and plastics markets.”
Rhodia and its Partners Create a Polyamide Recycling Channel for End-of-life Vehicles
LYON, France — Rhodia and its partners Renault, INDRA SAS / Re-source Industries, Steep and Mann+Hummel have made a commitment to create a polyamide recycling channel for end-of-life vehicles (ELVs). The partners have a common desire to work together to develop solutions that will contribute to reaching compliance with European regulatory requirements, which have set a minimum recycling and reuse rate of 95% for ELVs as of 2015. Rhodia’s objective is to contribute to the emergence of recycling outlets aimed at providing end-of-life solutions for its product applications and to continue the development of its 4earth™ ranges of recycled polyamide.
4earth™ recycled polyamides – the recycling brand of reference
There is a significant trend toward eco-friendly design and recycling in major polyamide markets such those for automotive, sports and leisure, construction, textile and household appliances.
With its 4earth™ brand, Rhodia is participating in the creation of innovative recycling outlets for various polyamide scraps, including post consumer ones, with the objective of offering its customers a high-performance recycled material under optimal conditions of security.
More than a product
Rhodia’s 4earth™ contract links it together with each of its partners in a closed loop in which each party becomes a customer and supplier of the other. This makes Rhodia the first company to overcome three frequent obstacles to the recycled products market:
” its supply is guaranteed by sustainable sources provided by its partners
” the consistent quality of its recycled products is guaranteed, and finally
” long-term economic viability is ensured.
Other advantages of 4earth™ products include their technical competitiveness with non-recycled products and their environmental benefits, which are duly measured on a case by case basis by the Life Cycle Assessment method.
Several 4earth™ programs have already been agreed with key players from various industries such as automotive and sports.
Verdezyne Produces Adipic Acid Biologically
CARLSBAD, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Verdezyne, Inc., a privately-held synthetic biology company developing processes for renewable chemicals and fuels, today announced they are developing a new fermentation process for the production of adipic acid.
Verdezyne achieved proof of concept in this development program by demonstrating production and recovery of adipic acid by a yeast microorganism from an alkane feedstock. Using proprietary technologies, Verdezyne discovered and is engineering a proprietary metabolic pathway that can utilize sugar, plant-based oils or alkanes.
This is Verdezyne’s first major milestone towards demonstrating an entirely feedstock flexible fermentation process for the production of bio-based adipic acid. The benefit of a feedstock flexible process is the ability to maintain a sustainable cost advantage regardless of future energy volatility. In addition to cost advantages, Verdezyne’s fermentation process will reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to the traditional petrochemical production of adipic acid.
“Our estimates indicate at least a 20% cost of manufacturing advantage for bio-based adipic acid depending on the feedstock selected,” stated E. William Radany, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, Verdezyne. “Rising consumer interest in bio-based products combined with a sustainable cost advantage makes Verdezyne’s adipic acid process a compelling proposition for future production.”
Verdezyne is engineering the metabolic pathway to boost organism performance at lab scale and intends to partner for scale-up demonstration in the next year. In parallel, Verdezyne continues to make metabolic pathway improvements to utilize renewable feedstocks such as sugar.
“The petrochemical industry is looking for a cost-efficient alternative to produce this valuable chemical and we are thrilled that Verdezyne’s platform is demonstrating considerable promise for commercialization of bio-based adipic acid,” says Stephen Picataggio, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Verdezyne.
The global adipic acid market was approximately $4.9 billion in 2009 with its two major applications being polyamides and polyurethanes. Adipic acid is an important engineering resin for well-established markets like automotive, footwear, and construction and is used in everyday products such as carpets, coatings, furniture, bedding and automobile parts
Verdezyne’s Platform Technology
Verdezyne’s novel combinatorial approach to pathway engineering rapidly creates and harnesses genetic diversity to optimize a metabolic pathway. The company’s unique computational and synthetic biology toolbox allows effective design, synthesis and expression of synthetic genes in a heterologous recombinant microorganism. Rather than manipulating one pathway gene at a time, the company uses synthetic gene libraries to introduce diversity into each pathway gene. Combinatorial assembly of multiple pathway genes introduces enzymatic diversity into a metabolic pathway, and biological selection or high-throughput screening identifies the most productive combination of pathway genes.
Founded in 2005, Verdezyne, formerly known as CODA Genomics, is a privately-held company that integrates its proprietary core technologies to direct the evolution of novel metabolic pathways for cost-effective commercial production of biofuels and platform chemicals. Investors in Verdezyne include OVP Venture Partners, Monitor Ventures, Tech Coast Angels and Life Science Angels. For more information on Verdezyne,visit www.verdezyne.com.
Ford and Ontario Bio-Car Initiative Develop Wheat Straw-Reinforced Plastic; First Application in 2010 Flex
Ford Motor Company, working with academic researchers in Canada and one of its suppliers, has developed a wheat straw-reinforced plastic; the natural fiber-based plastic contains 20% wheat straw bio-filler. First application is on the 2010 Ford Flex’s third-row interior storage bins. This application alone reduces petroleum usage by some 20,000 pounds per year, reduces CO2 emissions by 30,000 pounds per year, and represents a sustainable usage for wheat straw, the waste byproduct of wheat.
Ford researchers were approached with the wheat straw-based plastics formulation by the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, as part of the Ontario BioCar Initiative—a multi-university effort between Waterloo, the University of Guelph, University of Toronto and University of Windsor. Ford works closely with the Ontario government-funded project, which is seeking to advance the use of more plant-based materials in the auto and agricultural industries.
<!––>The wheat straw-reinforced resin is the BioCar Initiative’s first production-ready application. It demonstrates better dimensional integrity than a non-reinforced plastic and weighs up to 10% less than a plastic reinforced with talc or glass.
Without Ford’s driving force and contribution, we would have never been able to move from academia to industry in such lightning speed. Seeing this go into production on the Ford Flex is a major accomplishment for the University of Waterloo and the BioCar Initiative.
—Leonardo Simon, associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo
The University of Waterloo already had been working with plastics supplier A. Schulman of Akron, Ohio, to perfect the lab formula for use in auto parts, ensuring the material is not only odorless, but also meets industry standards for thermal expansion and degradation, rigidity, moisture absorption and fogging. Less than 18 months after the initial presentation was made to Ford’s Biomaterials Group, the wheat straw-reinforced plastic was refined and approved for Flex, which is produced at Ford’s Oakville (Ontario) Assembly Complex.
An interior storage bin may seem like a small start, but it opens the door for more applications, said Dr. Ellen Lee, technical expert, Ford’s Plastics Research. Lee said that Ford sees a great deal of potential for other applications since wheat straw has good mechanical properties, can meet our performance and durability specifications, and can further reduce its carbon footprint. Already under consideration by the Ford team: center console bins and trays, interior air register and door trim panel components, and armrest liners.
The case for using wheat straw to reinforce plastics in higher-volume, higher-content applications is strong across many industries. In Ontario alone, where Flex is built, more than 28,000 farmers grow wheat, along with corn and soybeans. Typically, wheat straw, the byproduct of growing and processing wheat, is discarded. Ontario, for example, has some 30 million metric tons of available wheat straw waste at any given time.
Wheat is everywhere and the straw is in excess. We have found a practical automotive usage for a renewable resource that helps reduce our dependence on petroleum, uses less energy to manufacture, and reduces our carbon footprint. More importantly, it doesn’t jeopardize an essential food source.
To date, Ford and its suppliers are working with four southern Ontario farmers for the wheat straw needed to mold the Flex’s two interior storage bins.
Ford’s interest in wheat dates back to the 1920s, when company founder Henry Ford developed a product called Fordite—a mixture of wheat straw, rubber, sulphur, silica and other ingredients&mash;that was used to make steering wheels for Ford cars and trucks. Much of the straw used to produce Fordite came from Henry Ford’s Dearborn-area farm.
Other bio-based, reclaimed and recycled materials that are in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles today, include:
•Soy-based polyurethane foams on the seat cushions and seatbacks, now in production on the Ford Mustang, Expedition, F-150, Focus, Escape, Escape Hybrid, Mercury Mariner and Lincoln Navigator and Lincoln MKS. More than 1.5 million Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles on the road today have soy-foam seats, which equates to a reduction in petroleum oil usage of approximately 1.5 million pounds. This year, Ford has expanded its soy-foam portfolio to include the industry’s first application of a soy-foam headliner on the 2010 Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner for a 25 percent weight savings over a traditional glass-mat headliner.
•Underbody systems, such as aerodynamic shields, splash shields and radiator air deflector shields, made from post-consumer recycled resins such as detergent bottles, tires and battery casings, diverting between 25 and 30 million pounds of plastic from landfills. The newest addition is the engine cam cover on the 3.0-liter V-6 2010 Ford Escape.
•100% post-industrial recycled yarns in seat fabrics on vehicles such as the Ford Escape. The 2010 Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan Hybrids feature 85% post-industrial yarns and 15 percent solution-dyed yarns. The 100% usage represents a 64% reduction in energy consumption and a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions.
•Repurposed nylon carpeting made into nylon resin and molded into cylinder head covers for Ford’s 3.0L Duratec engine. The industry’s first eco-friendly cylinder head cover is currently found in the 2010 Ford Fusion and Escape vehicles.
Bioplastics: Details emerge about Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle program
By Matt Defosse
Published: November 12th, 2009
A senior executive with the beverage bottling giant spoke this week at the European Bioplastics conference about the company’ plans, which include a limited trial in the U.S. and Denmark, replacing up to 30% of each bottle’s PET with material sourced from renewable resources. The company initially announced the program earlier this year, as reported here.
Cees van Dongen, a member of Coke’s global Environment, Health & Safety Council, told the attendees at the annual event, held this year in Berlin, Germany, that the program, set to begin this year in the western U.S. and in Denmark, is the first along a path to greater sustainability. In the U.S. about 30% of the bottles’ weight will be made from mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) derived from sugarcane and molasses; in Denmark the percentage of plant-derived MEG will be half that but those bottles will include 50% post-consumer recyclate (PCR). He said there is not enough PCR-PET available in the western U.S. for use in these bottles, as too much of the PET collected in that part of the U.S. is exported to Asia.
MEG and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) are the building blocks of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Ethanol derived from sugarcane will be fermented to create the bio-MEG, he explained. According to Coke, the Plant bottles will be the first beverage bottles that include content derived from renewable resources and can still be recycled in standard PET recycling streams. In the U.S. the company will start the project with its Dasani water brand; in Denmark other brands also will be packaged in these bottles.
According to Dongen, the company’s long-term vision is to “grow the business, not the carbon,” eventually reaching a net balance of zero waste generated by the company’s packaging. Based on total tonnage, about 55% of Coke’s packaging is PET, he said.
Because PET bottles’ design has already been nearly optimized to limit weight, and because the material’s manufacture is the most negative aspect of the material from an environmental viewpoint, the best way to limit environmental impact of PET bottles is to replace the PET, he said. The PlantBottles are indistinguishable from standard PET bottles, he said.
However, Dongen said Coke sees little future for the current crop of biodegradable bioplastics as primary beverage packaging. “For the next 5-10 years we don’t see biodegradable plastics as an option for our bottles,” though the company is looking closely at their use for secondary and tertiary packaging, he said.
Preliminary results from an ongoing independent life cycle analysis (LCA) for the PlantBottles indicate these are more environmentally friendly than standard PET bottles, Dongen said. He allowed, though, that the PlantBottle would not be the best solution for the company in the long run as the bio-ethanol used must be sourced from Brazil. “That’s why we’re still looking at other bioplastic options,” he said, and specifically cited the bottler’s work on development of lignocellulosic feedstocks. Lignocellulose gives structure to many plants, including trees, grasses and others not part of the human food chain. Corn stover, switchgrass and wood chips already are being used to make bio-ethanol. The great advantage of this route to MEG would be the availability of raw materials; so far though the process is difficult and expensive.
The goal, Dongen said, is to develop feedstocks suitable for 100% bio-based PET. In a panel discussion later in the conference, he elaborated, saying, “We expect a big wave. We think commodity plastics will be substantially replaced by bioplastics.” In light of current bioplastics’ already rapid demand growth, he said, “The wave will increase in both height and speed” in the coming years.
What about the price? Dongen would offer no detail on the cost of the bio-MEG but said that Coca-Cola’s perception, based on consumer surveys, is that “customers and consumers preference is for bio-materials, and the pricing structure will change to accommodate that.” Here again he did not detail plans, saying only that multiple avenues to limit costs were being considered.
Global demand for bioplastics to increase more than fourfold by 2013
Global demand for bioplastics, which include plastic resins that are biodegradable or derived from plant-based sources, will rise more than fourfold to 890,000 metric tons in 2013 according to Reportlinker.
This extraordinary growth will be fueled by a number of factors, including consumer demand for more environmentally-sustainable products, the development of bio-based feedstocks for commodity plastic resins, and increasing restrictions on the use of plastic products, particularly plastic bags. Most importantly, however, will be the expected continuation of high crude oil and natural gas prices, which will allow bioplastics to become more cost-competitive with petroleum-based resins. Looking ahead to 2018, world bioplastics demand is forecast to reach nearly two million metric tons, with a market value of over US$5 bln.
Biodegradable plastics, such as starchbased resins, polylactic acid and degradable polyesters, accounted for the vast majority (nearly 90%) of bioplastics demand in 2008. Double-digit gains are expected to continue going forward, fueled in part by the emergence of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) — such as MIREL resins from Telles — on the commercial market. However, non biodegradable plant-based plastics will be the primary driver of bioplastics demand. In the next few years, Dow Chemical and Braskem are each planning to open plants in Brazil that will produce polyethylene from bio-based ethanol. Other firms are expected to open bio-based polyvinyl chloride and polypropylene facilities. As a result, demand for non-biodegradable plant-based plastics will increase from just 23,000 metric tons in 2008 to nearly 600,000 metric tons in 2013.
Western Europe was the largest regional market for bioplastics in 2008, accounting for about 40% of world demand. Bioplastics sales in the region benefit from strong consumer demand for biodegradable and plant-based products, a regulatory environment that favors bioplastics over petroleum resins, and an extensive infrastructure for composting. Going forward, however, more rapid growth in demand will be found in the Asia/Pacific region, which will become the equal of the West European market by 2013. Gains will be stimulated by strong demand in Japan, which has focused intently on the replacement of petroleum-based plastics. Other world regions, such as Latin America and Eastern Europe, will see stellar gains in bioplastics demand from a very small 2008 base.
Currently, world bioplastics production is heavily concentrated in the developed countries of North America, Western Europe and Japan. This will change dramatically by 2013, as China is expected to open over 100,000 metric tons of new bioplastics capacity. Furthermore, once the planned bio-based polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride plants come online, Brazil will become the world’s leading producer of bioplastics in 2018.
Xerox Scientists Develop Silver Ink to Print Plastic Circuits
Xerox Scientists Develop “Silver Bullet” Needed to Replace Silicon Circuits with Low-Cost, Durable Plastic Xerox to jump-start industry commercialization by providing printed electronics materials that easily print on plastics, film and textiles.
With the development of a new silver ink, Xerox scientists have paved the way for commercialization and low-cost manufacturing of printable electronics. Printable electronics offers manufacturers a very low-cost way to add “intelligence” or computing power to a wide range of surfaces such as plastic or fabric. This development will aid the commercialization of new applications such as “smart” pill boxes that track how much medication a patient has taken or display screens that roll up to fit into a briefcase.
“For years, there’s been a global race to find a low-cost way to manufacture plastic circuits,” said Paul Smith, laboratory manager, Xerox Research Centre of Canada. “We’ve found the silver bullet that could make things like electronic clothing and inexpensive games a reality today. This breakthrough means the industry now has the capability to print electronics on a wider range of materials and at a lower cost.”
Until now, bringing low-cost electronics to the masses has been hindered by the logistics and costs associated with silicon chip manufacturing; the breakthrough low-temperature silver ink overcomes the cost hurdle, printing reliably on a wide range of surfaces such as plastic or fabric. As part of its commercialization initiatives, Xerox plans to aggressively seek interested manufacturers and developers by providing sample materials to allow them to test and evaluate potential applications.
Integrated circuits are made up of three components – a semiconductor, a conductor and a dielectric element – and currently are manufactured in costly silicon chip fabricating factories. By creating a breakthrough silver ink to print the conductor, Xerox has developed all three of the materials necessary for printing plastic circuits.
Using Xerox’s new technology, circuits can be printed just like a continuous feed document without the extensive clean room facilities required in current chip manufacturing. In addition, scientists have improved their previously developed semiconductor ink, increasing its reliability by formulating the ink so that the molecules precisely align themselves in the best configuration to conduct electricity.
The printed electronics materials, developed at the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, enable product manufacturers to put electronic circuits on plastics, film, and textiles. Printable circuits could be used in a broad range of products, including low-cost radio frequency identification tags, light and flexible e-readers and signage, sensors, solar cells and novelty applications including wearable electronics.
“We will be able to print circuits in almost any size from smaller custom-sized circuits to larger formats such as wider rolls of plastic sheets -unheard of in today’s silicon-wafer industry,” said Hadi Mahabadi, vice president and center manager of Xerox Research Centre Canada. “We are taking this technology to product developers to enable them to design tomorrow’s uses for printable electronics.”
R&D samples of the materials including the new conductive silver ink are available by contacting Xerox.
Watch as Xerox researcher Paul Smith explains how melting temperature was lowered for new silver conductive ink for printing flexible circuitry. View video here
Paul Smith, laboratory manager of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, provides a tour of his laboratory, explaining the different components of printable electronics. View video here
PSA Peugeot Citroën: 2011 target of 20% green materials in plastics
PSA Peugeot Citroën (Paris / France; www.psa-peugeot-citroen.com) has set itself the ambitious target of including 20% of green materials in the polymers used to build its cars by 2011. Presently, around 20% of the materials used in cars are plastics. The auto manufacturer says that “green materials” covers natural fibres such as linen and hemp, non-metallic recycled materials and biomaterials.
The company’s aim is to use fewer fossil fuel plastics, increase the use of raw materials from renewable sources to make parts lighter, cut CO2 emissions from plastics production and to promote plastics recycling.
Teijin Fibres – Torch bearer of eco-friendly process revolution (Japan)
In recent times, recycling of products has become a buzzword in the textile industry. This has come about due to the increasing awareness from the consumers, towards buying recycled products to protect the environment. Teijin Fibres Ltd., Japan is one of the torch bearers of this movement.
Teijin is a global technology-driven group operating in five main fields: synthetic fibers; films and plastics; pharmaceuticals and home health care; trading and retail; and IT and new products and the group had consolidated sales of US $9.4 billion in fiscal 2008 and employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide.
Polyester fibers have evolved as the Teijin Group’s core business, in line with growth in the global market. Teijin Fibers Limited is the Teijin Group’s polyester fiber operation and conducts R&D, manufacturing and marketing of materials and textiles made from polymer and polyester fibers.
The Teijin Group began dealing with global environmental issues relatively early and formulated the “Teijin Group Global Environmental Charter” in 1992 and also appointed a Chief Social Responsibility Officer (CSRO) in 2002, since when it began making rapid strides in issues related to environmental concerns.
To get a better understanding of the environmental and sustainability measures undertaken by Teijin Fibres, Fibre2fashion spoke to a spokesperson of Teijin Fibres to let us and our reader know about the endeavours initiated by the company relating to these main issues currently concerning the textile sector.
We began by asking him about ‘Eco Circle’, to which he said, “It is an environmentally friendly closed-loop recycling system for used polyester products. The system employs the world’s first chemical recycling technology developed by Teijin Fibers and with this technology, polyester is chemically decomposed at the molecular level and converted into new polyester raw materials”.
“Teijin cooperates with registered companies that share a commitment to promoting progressive environmental activities through the development and manufacture of products made from recyclable materials, as well as collection and recycling of these products at the end of their useful lives”, he added by saying.
Next we asked him to reveal the advantages of ‘Eco Circle’, to which explained by saying, “Reclaimed polyester materials through ‘Eco Circle’ offers purity that is comparable to those derived from petroleum, with no qualitative deterioration. The repeatable recyclability leads to oil resource conservation and waste volume reduction, compared to developing polyester materials from petroleum, this system reduces energy consumption by 84% and carbon dioxide emissions by 77%”.
Finally we probed him by asking him to tell us the evolution of ‘Eco Circle’, to which he replied by saying, “While the original focus of ‘Eco Circle’ was on recycling company and school uniforms and interior materials, the initiative was expanded through collaborations in 2005 with Patagonia Inc., a leading U.S. outdoor gear manufacturer, and fashion wear manufacturers in 2006”.
“Products within the scope of ‘Eco Circle’ now include eco bags, which were first introduced in 2006 and since its launch in 2002, ‘Eco Circle’ has been participated by over 100 companies worldwide, mostly apparel and sportswear manufacturers. Overseas members have also increased and now include major manufacturers such as Patagonia Inc., Quiksilver in France and Swany America”, he concluded by saying.
Sustainability continues to be strong theme in textile industry
, 2009 (Hong Kong)
Over the years, Interstoff Asia Essential in Hong Kong has developed a highly respected sourcing platform for textile professionals with a particular focus on eco-textiles and functional fabrics.
The spring edition of the fair is confirmed to showcase an impressive range of international exhibitors including country and region pavilions from Amazing Taiwan, Elite China, Premium Korea and Fine Japan presenting their latest and most cutting edge designs for three days from 18 – 20 March 2009 at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre. Some of the particpating exhibitors include Teijin Hong Kong Ltd and Yuen Hing Cotton Co from Hong Kong, JFW Creation, Ishinco, JB (Joint Bishu) Brand, and Taiyo Sen from Japan, Sapphire Textile Mills from Pakistan.
As the industry looks for ways to take greener steps and maintain marketability amidst a complex economy, the show will continue to host a number of relevant programmes, offering educational platforms that explore the issues of sustainable development and discuss new ideas on how to cope with the market changes for fashion and textile related industries.
Hong Kong is still one of China’s leading trade partners for textile import and export right after the USA and Japan. As the challenging worldwide economic climate has demonstrated the need for cost effective means of reaching out to quality buyers, the fair’s concept will now more than ever facilitate this want. By positioning itself in the heart of South East Asia – Hong Kong, the fair continues to attract leading executives, designers and industry buyers from the South East Asian region, while delivering a well-rounded textile event to all attendees.
Most notably, Interstoff Asia Essential will cooperate with Eco Textile News, to jointly hold a panel discussion that will offer new business ideas to textile and garment manufacturers, focusing on strategies in dealing with the current market situation. One of the open dialogues will be Can sustainability survive the global credit crunch? Meanwhile, Levi’s, H&M and BASF have already confirmed to join this year’s panel discussion.
Continuing its eco theme and back by popular demand, specialists from recognised eco-textile certification bodies will return on-site to offer their services. Systain Consulting Hong Kong and The International Association Natural Textile Industry (IVN) have formed a clear and easy-to-understand picture of the eco-products on display that will help visitors get a quick overview of the eco-textiles at the spring edition of the fair.
In addition to providing an eco-textile forum, fair organiser, Messe Frankfurt is currently working on a trend forum that will reflect the Spring / Summer 2010 season textile trends.
Interstoff Asia Essential
New York, NY (March 24, 2009)
PET Resin Plastic Bottles Boast Energy-Efficient, Low Waste and Recyclable Benefits
Life Cycle Inventory underscores sustainable properties of PET resin
– PET resin (polyethylene terephthalate), the polymer used in the manufacture of many of today’s plastic beverage bottles and food containers, is a highly recyclable and energy-efficient packaging material. PET’s sustainable attributes, established recycling stream, low energy consumption and minimal post-consumer waste make it the packaging material of choice for food and beverage manufacturers and brand owners around the world. According to a November 2007 life cycle inventory study conducted by Franklin Associates, a division of Eastern Research, Inc., PET resin water bottles use significantly less energy and fossil fuels than other types of plastic materials. PET containers are labeled with an SPI resin identification code of “1” with the symbol of three arrows forming a triangle with a number “1” in the center.
The life cycle inventory study, which used U.S.-based data, examined green house gas emissions (i.e., carbon dioxide), energy consumption and post-consumer solid waste (i.e., a product that has completed its life cycle as a consumer item and would then be disposed) of PET and PLA (polylactide). The study revealed that PET resin plastic bottles, particularly those that have been recycled, emit lower levels of carbon dioxide, require significantly less energy and result in less post-consumer solid waste.
“Franklin Associates is a well-known and well-respected research organization,” said Ralph Vasami, Esq., executive director of PETRA, the trade association of the North America PET resin manufacturers. “As the life-cycle inventory demonstrated, PET resin has strong sustainability attributes, using low levels of fossil fuel and energy.”
Importantly, the recycle stream for PET water bottles is well-developed and utilized, as PET is the most recycled plastic in the United States, making a large contribution to the recycling targets that are becoming requirements for plastics by various state and federal agencies. PET can be collected and recycled by washing and re-melting in a similar manner to glass.
PET can be recovered, and the material reused, by simple washing processes or by chemical treatment to break down the PET into raw materials or intermediates which are converted into new PET resins. A final option for PET recycling is to use it as energy source (thermal recycling). When recycling is not undertaken, in landfills PET is stable and inert with no leaching or groundwater risk. Bottles are crushed to very small volume, take up relatively little space, and generally add a degree of stability to the landfill.
The Life Cycle Inventory Summary for PET and PLA 12-ounce water bottles, reported by Franklin Associates in November 2007, is available on the PETRA Web site. To view the complete report and for more information, please visit: http://www.petresin.org.
PETRA is the trade association of North American PET resin manufacturers. The association is dedicated to promoting the growth of PET products and representing North American PET resin producers. PETRA follows industry issues and educates the public on the benefits and values of PET resin products.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RALPH VASAMI, ESQ.
Monday, 09 March 2009 00:00
Home Environment Bioenergy First 2nd-generation bio-ethanol plant to be launched in Italy First 2nd-generation bio-ethanol plant to be launched in Italy
The first second-generation bio-ethanol plant will be built in Italy in 2010, announced Mossi & Ghisolf Group on occasion of an international conference about bio-ethanol and renewable energies.
The “old” bio-ethanol is a fuel derived from sugar cane or maize, emitting 30% less of greenhouse gases compared to traditional oil. Second-generation bio-ethanol allows to derive fuel from wood and cellulose biomasses, thus avoiding the employment of cultivations that have also nutrition purposes such as cereals. Furthermore, it permits a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions up to 80%.
During 2009 Mossi & Ghisolfi Group will finish gathering data about the pilot production factories, that are in part installed and in part are being completed. By next year the whole system will be at work and it will be possible to start the constrution of the first European production plant.
During the same conference prof. Monti, president of Bocconi University at Milan, claimed that the solution to the energetic and environmental crisis passes through biofuels too. “We must aim at technological innovation, so that carbon emissions’ intensity per unit of employed energy can diminish, and this is biofuels’ challenge” he declared.
“By 2020 – he said – at least 10% of consumptions in transports will have to be covered by biofuels. It is a difficult task, certainly, and transport is a crucial sector, as it produces 20% of climate-altering emissions, in a growing rate”.
Tue Feb 5, 2008 12:55pm EST
Italy’s M&G to build bioethanol plant
By Svetlana Kovalyova
TORTONA, Italy (Reuters) – Italian chemical group Mossi & Ghisolfi, M&G, plans to build a 200,000-tonne bioethanol plant and convert it to using cellulose feedstock as pressure mounts on the sector to make more environment-friendly biofuels.
Traditional biofuels — produced from grains, vegetable oils and sugar cane — are facing strong criticism for driving food prices up and for limited contribution to cuts in heat-trapping gas emissions.
M&G Vice President Guido Ghisolfi said his group with partners would invest about 100 million euros ($148.1 million) to build the biggest bioethanol plant in Italy by 2009 and 120 million euros more in research to convert it to cellulose feedstock later on.
The plant in the north Italian region of Piedmont would produce 200,000 tons, or about 2.5 million hectoliters of bioethanol to help Italy meet its bioethanol target of about 1 million tons by 2010, Ghisolfi said.
“Our goal is to be competitive with Brazilian ethanol even without subsidies,” Ghisolfi said on the sidelines of a biofuels conference, brushing off sector concerns that Italian bioethanol producers have been hit by limited fiscal brakes.
The new plant would initially use 600,000 tons of maize as feedstock and Tortona-based M&G has already lined up local farmers to deliver grain as it aims to cover 60 percent of feedstock needs with local supplies.
M&G has already presented an evaluation of environmental impact of the new plant — a key document for getting a government permit for any big industrial project in Italy — to the government and planned to start works in May 2008, he said.
The new plant’s output would be sold mostly in Italy where a number of major petrol distributors have pledged to boost bioethanol blend sold at their pump stations from 2008.
M&G, which is the world’s biggest producer of PET for packaging, last year started a research aimed at converting the future bioethanol plant from maize to fiber sorghum or common cane which use less fertilizers and do not require irrigation.
The group aims to launch a demonstration plant by 2012 which will have a 20,000 ton annual output.
An increasing number of scientists and producers say that the second-generation biofuels, which are made from non-edible crops and even municipal waste, will be more effective against climate change that traditional biofuels.
Ghisolfi said M&G would aim to sell its second-generation technology once it is developed.
Research is under way around the world to develop the second-generation biofuel technology, but experts say it would take years before they become commercially sustainable and profitable.
Corrado Clini, chairman of Global Bioenergy Partnership, said M&G’s project is set to be the biggest in Europe and would help Italy — which has been lagging behind other European Union countries in hitting EU’s biofuels targets — become the leader in the second-generation biofuels research
Sustainability : Some definitions
Traditionally defined as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The ability to conduct an activity without depleting resources beyond their regenerative capacity. Creating new ways to live and prosper while ensuring an equitable, healthy future for all people and the planet.
If everyone in the world lived the same way as we do in the UK, we’d need three planets to support us, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Sustainable development is about using all of our natural resources more responsibly, so we can meet our needs today without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs too.
Actions and products that meet current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Sustainability is a broad term and often refers to the desire to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural environments both now and into the indefinite future.