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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1204

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Cover Story The

Cover Story The world’s next-generation polyester 100% biobased polyethylene furanoate (PEF) By Peter Mangnus VP Partnering & Commercialisation YXY Avantium Chemicals BV Amsterdam, The Netherlands In 2009 The Coca-Cola Company launched its PlantBottle, a (partially) bio-based plastic bottle for its Coca-Cola and Dasani brands. In the same year Frito Lay introduced a bio-based chips bag for SunChips. Recently Nike introduced its new bio-based GS football boot. The direction of major brand owners is to move away from petroleum based materials and they are ramping up their efforts to introduce renewable materials. Avantium, an innovative renewable chemicals company based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is commercializing a new bio-based polyester: polyethylene furanoate (PEF) for large applications such as bottles, films and fibers. With PEF’s exceptional barrier properties and increased heat resistance it has come on the radar screen of the leading brand owners in the beverage industry. Looking at its differentiating polymer properties, its cost competitive production process, and the strongly reduced carbon footprint, one must conclude that PEF has the potential to become the world’s next-generation polyester. In December 2011 the Dutch company announced its development partnership with The Coca-Cola Company, followed by a similar agreement with Danone in March 2012, to develop and commercialize PEF bottles for carbonated soft drinks and water. With the support of these brand powerhouses in the beverage industry Avantium seems to be on a winning course to make PEF the new 100% renewable and recyclable standard for the polyester industry. The road to a new bioplastic Avantium has a 12-year track record of discovering, developing and optimizing catalytic processes for the refinery, chemical and renewables industries. Using its advanced catalyst research technology, the company has developed its YXY (pronounced ~iksy) technology, a proprietary process to convert plant based carbohydrates into building blocks for making bio-based plastics, biobased chemicals and advanced biofuels. The company is backed by an international group of venture capital firms, including Sofinnova Partners, Capricorn Cleantech, ING and Aescap. Avantium has been listed for two consecutive years as a global top 100 cleantech company. Over the past few years the company made significant progress in the development and commercialization of the YXY technology. The basic philosophy behind it is to develop products from renewable sources that compete both on price and on performance with petroleum-based products, while also having a superior environmental footprint. Built upon Avantium’s core capability of advanced catalysis R&D, this chemical catalytic process allows the production of cost-competitive next-generation plastic materials and chemicals. YXY’s main building block, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), can be used as a replacement for terephthalic acid (TA). O HO Terephthalic acid (TA) OH O Furan- dicarboxilic acid (FDCA) Avantium has announced collaborations with leading brands and industrial companies to create a strong demand for products based on YXY technology. In addition to the joint development programs for 100% bio-based PEF bottles, O HO O OH O 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/12] Vol. 7

Cover Story Plant-based carbohydrates MMF FDCA 70% 30% PEF Bottles MEG Fibers Crude Oil PX TA 30% 70% PET Film Avantium’s YXY technology (in blue), the production chain of PEF versus PET similar contracts were signed with Solvay, Rhodia and Teijin Aramid for the creation of Furanic polyamide-based materials. In December 2011, Avantium officially opened its pilot plant at the Chemelot Campus in Geleen, the Netherlands. This pilot plant has been successfully started and is running 24/7. Its main purpose is to demonstrate the PEF technology at scale but is also producing sufficient volumes of FDCA and PEF for application development. The first commercial plant will have a production capacity of around 50,000 tonnes per year. Preparations for this commercial production plant have already started, and Avantium expects the plant to come on stream in 2016. The company is in the process of securing the financial resources for the first commercial scale FDCA plant, after which it will announce the site location. PEF: the next generation polyester The focus is clearly set on PEF, a polyester-based on FDCA and MEG (monoethylene-glycol). When using bio-based MEG, PEF is a 100% bio-based alternative to PET. PEF can be applied to a wide variety of commercial uses, including bottles, textiles, food packaging, carpets, electronic materials and automotive applications. One of the benefits of PEF is that it can be processed in existing PET assets. Avantium has used an existing PET pilot plant to produce PEF at pilot plant scale and the company has used existing PET processing equipment such as PET blow molding machines and PET fiber spinning lines. PEF is in many ways similar to PET: it is a colorless and rigid material. However there are some remarkable differences between PEF and PET. PEF has a glass transition temperature of 86°C, which is 10-12°C higher than PET. Its higher heat resistance makes PEF a versatile packaging material, for example, for hot fill or in-container pasteurization. Table 1 presents additional properties for PEF. To any packaging expert PEF’s remarkable barrier properties stand out as a significant improvement over PET. PEF outperforms the barrier properties of PET in every way – it shuts out oxygen 6-10x better; carbon dioxide is 2-4x better; and water vapour 2x better. Table 2 shows some of the applications where these improvements can help satisfy an unmet market need. Table 1: PEF properties Property PEF (relative to PET) Tg 86°C (Higher 11°C) Tm 235°C (Lower 30°C) HDT-B (@ 0.45 N/mm 2 , ASTM E2092) 76°C (cf. 64°C for PET) CO 2 barrier improvement 2-4x Oxygen barrier improvement 6-10x Table 2: Unmet needs in PET packaging (* CSD = Carbonated Soft Drinks) Unmet need for packaging CO 2 O 2 H 2 O CSD* x Juices x Vitamin Water x Beer x x Milk x Ketchup x x Coffee/Tea x x bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/12] Vol. 7 13

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