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From Science & Research

From Science & Research Fig. 3: The SYNPOL roadmap procedure. Research related to fermentative production of chemicals from CO/CO 2 has greatly increased in recent years The fermentation of synthesis gas (syngas) has become an attractive technology for the production of biofuels for which processes are already available from companies in the USA, New Zealand and Canada, but not in Europe. Therefore, SYNPOL´s technology (Fig. 2) aims to open a new window for the rational design of an innovative European process to convert complex wastes into new biopolymers also using novel processing technologies such as microwave-supported pyrolysis. To this end, SYNPOL will establish an integrated platform for biopolymers production. Reduced energy input and optimised purification of waste streams will contribute to the economic viability of end products. According to the objectives roadmap of the project (Fig. 3), bacteria will fermentatively produce bioplastic basic compounds, the so-called polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), out of the C1 carbon fractions of the syngas. Different prototypes of biopolymers and their blends will be prepared from SYNPOL. Finally, PHA, plasticizers and nanoclays will be further assessed for their physical and mechanical properties, for their appropriate end use in different sectors of the bioplastics industry. The PHA material has wide applications as it can then be formed and moulded into almost any given design. SYNPOL aims to convert complex waste into new costefficient biopolymers in three major steps: • Pyrolysis of different waste streams to produce synthesis gas (syngas); • Fermentation of the carbon fractions of the gas (CO and CO 2 ) by using different natural and recombinant autotrophic bacteria to produce chemical building blocks and PHAs; • Synthesis of biobased plastic prototypes (blends) with well-defined structures and improved properties for wide commercial use, through chemical and enzymatic catalysis by utilizing the monomers and polymers produced during syngas fermentation. Two projects with big expectations From the perspective of both projects, important progress will be achieved in terms of combining the environmental benefit of future-oriented biopolymers and chemical building blocks with the economic viability of their production. This should finally facilitate the decision of responsible policy makers from agriculture, the waste-generating industrial sectors and from the polymer industry to break new ground in sustainable production. In the future, production of bioplastics and chemical building blocks from different biomass streams applying gasification and/or separation technology should be integrated into existing process lines of biotechnological bioplastic companies, where the feedstock material directly accrues. By taking profit of synergistic effects, this can be considered a viable strategy to minimize production costs and leads to realize the project´s vision of taking organic biomass (waste) streams and turning them into commercially useful products that generate both an environmental and economic benefit. The two projects therefore offer timely strategic actions that will enable the EU to lead modern and futuredriven technologies for organic waste revalorization and sustainable biopolymer production on a global level. By: Oliver Drzyzga, Auxiliadora Prieto, José Luis García CIB-CSIC, Madrid, Spain (for SYNPOL) Peter J. Punt, Ernst Geutjes, Dirk Verdoes TNO, Zeist/Delft, The Netherlands Ellen Fethke RTD Services, Vienna, Austria (for BioConSepT) 30 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/14] Vol. 9

Materials Miko Pac (Turnhout, Belgium) is a packaging expert in injection molding of plastics for food packaging. Their slogan is “thinking out of the box”, and this is exactly what they did when they took part in this joint development project – a joint development that involved BASF with its Ecovio ® biopolymer, Druckhaus Rahning (Bünde, Germany) for the manufacturing of the IML labels, and Taghleef Industries’ for the supply of NATIVIA PLA film. The working group used existing and well established technologies, designed for use with standard oil-based plastics, to produce a biobased and compostable injection molded thin-wall and in-mold decorated pot for food packaging. The major step ahead was using the new, biodegradable and bio-based Ecovio IS for injection molding, and the bio-based and compostable metallised Nativia PLA film for the barrier label. Ecovio and Nativia are widely used in packaging applications. However, a known characteristic of both materials is their poor barrier against moisture and gases, which does not allow their use for shelf stable food products. As a consequence, the team decided to use a vacuum metallised Nativia film for labelling the 0.6mm pot’s bottom and surrounding wall to provide barrier. Druckhaus Rahninig, a leading printing house specializing in the manufacturing of labels, used their know-how to print the labels, by using a 5-color + lacquer reel-fed UV printer to produce both the wrap around and bottom labels. The measurement of O 2 permeation at 25°C and 40% relative humidity, according ASTM F1927–07, revealed that by adding the metallised PLA label, the O 2 permeation was lowered to about 25% of the original Ecovio O 2 permeation value, and 10 times lower than standard PP tubs. Ecovio consists of Ecoflex ® , a compostable co-polyster (PBAT) and PLA, which is derived from plant-based starch. The main areas of use for Ecovio are plastic films such as organic waste bags, dual-use bags (first for shopping, then for organic waste), agricultural films, as well as paper-coating, shrink films, foam packaging and injection molded products. Products made of Ecovio is for injection molding benefit from an optimum balance of rigidity and toughness. Flow behavior is easily adjusted according to the application – from medium to high flow requirements. Nativia biaxially oriented, bio-based and compostable PLA films are widely used in various food packaging applications, thanks to their high clarity, gloss, seal-ability and compatibility with existing packaging machines. To date, they had never been tested for manufacturing labels for injection molding. MT High barrier in-mould labelling bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/14] Vol. 9 31

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