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Materials New algae

Materials New algae bioplastics Cereplast, Inc. has commercialized Cereplast Algae Bioplastics with the launch of Biopropylene ® 109D, an injection molding grade manufactured with 20% postindustrial algae biomatter. The company expects to commercialize a new grade with 50% algae in the coming weeks. Industrial uses for algae itself are broad. Algae is used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and to remediate industrial waste and sewage treatment effluents. Algae from these uses are grown specifically for extraction can be used as a source of biofuel, nutrients and industrial specialty chemicals. Algae biofuel has been used on commercial airline flights for demonstration purposes. Karrageenan as a food thickener and agar for lab culture growth are two other more well-known chemicals obtained from algae. When the chemicals have been extracted from algae, the result is algae biomatter, which has limited usefulness because the beneficial chemicals have already been removed. Algae biomatter is often used as animal feed filler. Cereplast is now working with algae biomatter to be used as a filler in polyolefins, including polypropylene. However, algae biomatter can be of highly variable quality because of the many different strains of algae used industrially, and because of the many different uses of algae itself. This has limited access to a sufficient quantity of consistent algae biomatter, which has been a challenge in the effort to commercialize the algae grades. Cereplast has now identified a consistent post-industrial algae source. This finding allows the company to commercialize Cereplast Algae Bioplastics and expand the product line earlier than anticipated. Another hurdle on the path to commercialization was reducing the odor and color that is innate to algae biomass. Cereplast has been working on various means to resolve these issues; the present Cereplast technology dramatically reduces or eliminates the odor. Biopropylene 109D can be processed on existing conventional electric and hydraulic reciprocating screw injection molding machines, and is recommended for thin wall injection molding applications. Commercialized applications include a line of hair accessories (including headbands, barrettes, jaw clips and hair pins) by The Barrette Factory, a US-based company that manufactures the algae collection in France. Recently, Cereplast incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary called Algaeplast, which will separate the research and development for the algae grades from their other, starchbased bioplastic grades. Algaeplast will work toward developing new monomers and polymers made from algae within the next five years. Cereplast Algae Bioplastic Pellets 32 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/13] Vol. 8

Materials On the way to fully bio-based PET Different market forecasts predict the strongest growth for bio-based PET (cf. e.g. page 10 or 22) in the upcoming years. While biobased mono ethylene glycol (MEG), which makes up 30% by wt. of the PET, is already available made from sugar cane based bio-ethanol, the other monomer pTA (purified terephthalic acid) is still made from fossil resources. One of the companies that are busy in getting biobased pTA and thus 100% bio-based PET into the market is Gevo, a leading renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company from Englewood, Colorado, USA. The company is developing biobased alternatives to petroleum-based products using a combination of synthetic biology and chemistry. “Our business model is to retrofit existing bio-ethanol plants to produce biobased isobutanol from sugar sources via fermentation,” as Bob Bernacki, VP of Business Development – Chemicals explained to bioplastics MAGAZINE. “Therefore we use different proprietary yeast biocatalysts,” he said. The bio-isobutanol is then converted into butenes (C4) via dehydration. In a following oligomerization step these butenes are grouped together to from C8, C12 or C16 molecules. While the C12 and C16s are converted into e.g. jet-fuel, the C8 molecules are converted into paraxylene (PX), the precursor for terephthalic acid. Gevo is currently starting construction of a pilot plant which is scheduled to produce paraxylene in July of this year. The bio-PET will be produced by the Japanese company Toray. After an evaluation phase with different fiber-, film and bottle grades of 100% bio-based PET, GEVO will (in 2014) start looking for partners to take the technology and scale it up for commercial production of biobased PX. Gevo is a leader in the bio-based isobutanol production and “what really helped us to be successful are the strong partnerships that we formed throughout the value chain,” said Bob Bernacki. “For example partnerships on the feedstock-side with companies working on converting cellulose into fermentable sugars, partners such as Purina Land O’Lakes for upgrading the value of the animal feed we make or partnerships with companies like Coca-Cola, Lanxess, or Toray, etc., for downstream products made from isobutanol.” MT Isobutanol Dehydration Integrated BIO p-Xylene Process butenes water Dehydrocyclization C8-ene Oligomerization crude pX C12-ene C16-ene Isobutanol to Jet Fuel and Paraxylene (Source: Gevo) C8-ene Melt crystallizer Bio Jet Fuel Hydrogenation Bio p-xylene o,m xylene bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/13] Vol. 8 33

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