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News Dow and Mitsui to

News Dow and Mitsui to Create Platform for Biopolymers The Dow Chemical Company and Mitsui & Co., Ltd., of Tokyo, Japan recently announced the formation of a new joint venture and execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at providing innovative and sustainable product solutions to the global high-performance flexible packaging, hygiene and medical markets. This represents the world’s largest biopolymers play and is Dow’s largest investment in Brazil, a country in which Dow has operated successfully for more than 50 years. Under the terms of the agreement, Mitsui would become a 50% equity interest partner in Dow’s sugar cane growing operation in Santa Vitória, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The initial scope of the joint venture includes production of sugar cane-derived ethanol for use as a renewable feedstock source, bringing new, biomass-based feedstocks to Dow while diversifying the Company’s raw material streams from traditional fossil fuels. When complete, Dow and Mitsui will have the world’s largest integrated facility for the production of biopolymers made from renewable, sugar-cane derived ethanol. The project aligns with Dow’s goal of developing low carbon solutions to meet the world’s pressing energy and climate change challenges. Once fully operational, this platform will be backintegrated into renewable sugar cane, enabling environmentally sustainable production of high performance plastics with a reduced carbon footprint. Biopolymers produced at this facility will be a green alternative and drop-in replacement for the high-performance flexible packaging, hygiene and medical markets, offering customers the same performance attributes with a more sustainable environmental profile. MT Malaysian Pilot Plant for PHA from Palm Oil Malaysia’s first fully automated Polyhydroxylalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics pilot plant that enables the production of versatile biodegradable plastic materials from palm oil is now ready and operational, charting a new milestone in the country’s efforts to provide alternative to non-biodegradable petroleum-based plastics. The first of its kind, the plant was designed and built through the smart partnership between SIRIM Berhad, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. Scaled-up to 2,000 litres, the bioreactor facilities and integrated manufacturing process of the plant is able to produce various options of PHA materials from crude palm kernel oil and palm oil mill effluent. The strain to produce PHA from crude palm kernel oil and its optimised processes that is ready for up-scaling were developed by USM, while UPM on the other hand has converted palm oil mill effluent into organic acid which was then fermented to produce a very useful bioplastic material or known as PBHV (polyhydroxybutyrate-co-hydroxyvalerate). Meanwhile the MIT has put in their expertise in metabolic engineering into use by developing recombinant strain that is very competent in producing high yield of PHA. MT Palm oil is being extracted from its fruits, which turn red when ripe. Photo taken at palm oil plantation in Malaysia (Photo Sze Fei Wong, iStock) 6 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/11] Vol. 6

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