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News Solvay and Avantium

News Solvay and Avantium Cooperate Solvay, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium and Avantium, headquartered in Amsterdam,The Netherlands, recently announced that they have entered into a partnership to jointly develop a next generation of green high-performance polyamides for engineering plastics. The partnership combines Solvay’s leading position in specialty polymers and Avantium’s YXY (pronounced icksy) technology for producing building blocks for green materials. The companies will work together to explore the commercial potential of engineering plastics on the basis of YXY building blocks. YXY is a patented technology that converts biomass into Furanic building blocks, such as FDCA (2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid). Through the partnership, new high-performance polyamides will be developed that are produced using renewable, bio-based feedstock. Solvay and Avantium target a next generation of polyamides with new properties that can serve a range of engineering applications in areas such as automotive and electronic materials. Price and performance of the polyamides will be key drivers for the success of the project. “We are very happy to be able to look at the potential of YXY building blocks in specialty polyamides together with Avantium”, said Antoine Amory, in charge of renewable based chemistry developments within the newly created Innovation Center of Solvay. “Avantium’s success in making such building blocks available through a unique manufacturing route is an essential key step that opens up new opportunities in the field of specialty polymers which we are impatient to explore. “We are excited about our collaboration with Solvay. The polyamides we will develop together will become another novel and exciting outlet for our YXY building blocks,” said Tom van Aken, CEO of Avantium. “Solvay’s expertise in the field of polyamides is very important to understand the polyamides we will focus on and bring them closer to commercial applications. This agreement is another important step to explore high-value added applications for our YXY building blocks, in addition to work we are already doing in a complementary polyamide area.” MT Consumers to Opt for Bioplastics Packing As the disposal of packaging in applications such as food has had an adverse impact on the environment, it has opened up numerous opportunities for retailers and packaging manufacturers in bioplastics. This is a result of a study, the market researchers of Frost & Sullivan published in their new study ‘European Bioplastics Packaging Market’. Most traditional packaging materials are oil based. But consumers are increasingly seeking bio-friendly options to conventional plastics to safeguard their environment and sources of renewable energy. New analysis from the study find that the European bioplastics packaging market earned revenues of €142.8 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach €475.5 million in 2016, boosted by increasing production capacities of key industry participants and increasing consumer awareness about environmental-friendly products. Governments could offer tax exemptions and other subsidies to encourage the production of bio-based, environment-friendly products from renewable resources to conserve non-renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission. Market participants can tap the sizeable market potential once they address bioplastics’ drawbacks of low material performance and prohibitive pricing caused by the high costs of production and processing. The cost issue can be effectively resolved by increasing the production capacity of key industry participants. “A focus on increasing production capacities and their effective utilization will help close the price disparity between biopolymers and conventional plastics,” says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sujatha Vijayan. “This will enable the market to grow and replace plastics in several applications.” While increasing consumer awareness is opening up more avenues for growth, the market’s success also depends on emerging technologies that can improve the quality and properties of the material used. For instance, in food packaging, technical developments in barrier properties will make considerable improvements to the material that is currently in use. Meanwhile, retailers are pressuring bioplastics manufacturers to use active packaging to remove odours. Smart technology is likely to find traction in this application, as it can actually monitor the quality of the food through freshness, temperature or quality indicators built into the package. “Companies are innovating various technologies to improve the properties of existing biopolymer and their inventions are expected to change the way plastics is used in packaging applications,” notes the analyst. MT 6 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/11] Vol. 6

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