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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_1402

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People Report From canola to PHA New Meredian Holdings Group comprises oil mill, fermentation and compounding When Meredian Inc., founded in 2007 in Bainbridge, Georgia, USA as a subsidiary of DaniMer Scientific, acquired the intellectual property (IP) for making PHA from vegetable oil from Procter & Gamble, experts were excited what would be coming. Meredian’s founding partners, S. Blake Lindsey and Dr. Daniel T. Carraway, shared the vision of P&G that PHA could provide global markets with a sustainably produced, renewable, biodegradable plastic material at a competitive cost. A lot has happened since then. In February bioplastics MAGAZINE visited the plant in Bainbridge. This plant visit fell exactly upon the founding phase of Meredian Holdings Group, now comprising three companies which map the entire supply chain of PHA production from the processing of canola oil through fermentation to reactive extrusion (compounding) into processable PHA resins, the plant manages all stages as one continuous process. These three companies are AgroCrush, Meredian and DaniMer Scientific. “The merger of these three companies is the birth of a new organization, really a fresh beginning as we transition from innovation to the commercialization stage of the company’s journey,” says Dr. Paul Pereira, Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. But let’s start at the beginning… DaniMer Scientific Back in 2004 when DaniMer Scientific LLC was founded by Daniel Carraway (formerly responsible for the forestry biotec division of International Paper), DaniMer Scientific started offering biopolymers for extrusion coating of paper and paperboard. By modifying and functionalizing PLA with their own proprietary technology DaniMer were the first in the world to enable PLA based extrusion coating of paper. The first real great market success was in the field of PLAcoated paper cups that were co-developed with International Paper and marketed under the brand name Ecotainer by this company (cf. bM 06/2008 and 05/2009). This first success allowed DaniMer to expand their product range into a wide variety of various application fields such as film converting, injection molding or thermoforming, as Blake Lindsey, president of DaniMer Scientific tells bioplastics MAGAZINE. Historically mainly based on PLA, DaniMer now has a lot of different — mainly bioplastic based — “tools in their toolbox”, so that “we can produce a number of unique combinations”, as Blake puts it. “as an example, in a few weeks DaniMer will be launching, together with Henkel, the World’s first biobased hot melt adhesive,” Blake Lindsey proudly discloses. So basically DaniMer Scientific is a compounding company with sound knowledge of unique biopolymer processing technologies, such as their reactive extrusion that they developed over the last ten years based on a twin-screw extrusion process. Meredian Meredian, Inc. as a sister company to Danimer Scientific, that acquired the intellectual property that forms the basis of its bioplastic technology from Procter & Gamble in 2007, and has continued to improve the patent portfolio with key international and North American patents. Meredian is proud to have Dr. Isao Noda on board, inventor of P&G’s PHA-technology (back in 1988) and a renowned expert in the field. Dr. Noda will serve Meredian as its Senior VP of Innovation and will work closely with Meredian’s customers to bring new materials to the market. Unlike the PHA types (PHB, PHV, PHBV etc) that certain other companies produce around the globe, Meredian’s PHAs are medium chain-length polyhydroxylalkanoates (mcl-PHA, details see below). The feedstock to produce these types — basically the food for the 22 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/14] Vol. 9

Report All under “one roof“ By: Michael Thielen special family of microorganisms creating these PHAs as an energy reserve in their bodies — is canola oil (or any other vegetable oil). “Compared to sugar or starch from sugarcane, sugar beet, sweet potatoes or corn, the process is much more effective with our oil fed microorganisms,” Blake explains. “Even if sugar or starch as a feedstock is cheaper, you need three times as much.” Meredian’s range of PHAs comprise medium chain length polymers such as PHH (Polyhydroxy-hexanoate / C4-C6), PHO (Polyhydroxy-octanoate / C4-C8) and PHD (Polyhydroxy-decanoate / C4-C10). “These are our primary types and we can go all the way up to C4-C24,” says Blake Lindsey. “However, we can also make PHB and PHBV etc.,” he adds. But these types are more linear, much more like a PLA and thus they tend to be more stiff and brittle. And a real challenge in terms of processing is that with PHB and PHBV the melting point and the degradation point of these materials is only a few degrees apart. Our mcl-PHA offers a much wider range of operational temperatures for the convertor” Like other PHA microorganisms Meredian’s bacteria also can generate polymer in their body as an energy reserve, up to 80% of their body weight. However, differing from other processors, Meredian uses a proprietary solvent free process to extract the polymer form the bacteria. The residue, the so called cell debris, is of high value (e.g. as fertilizer or soil amendment for potting soil that can be sold in gardening markets). By mixing the various types, Meredian can create materials that mimic almost everything from linear low density PE to polypropylene or polystyrene, with significantly improved barrier properties. When asked for the sales prices, Blake says: “Our target selling price is whatever polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene is selling for. We expect to compete with petro plastics in both performance and price. Our manufacturing systems have confirmed that we can in fact meet these economic goals. Of course, this will require our volume to be at full commercial scale but the selling price objectives can be met.” Reactive Extrusion bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/14] Vol. 9 23

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