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Issue 01/2014

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Highlights: Automotive Foam Pharmafilter Land use

News Bio-based

News Bio-based engineering plastic for automotive touch panels Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (headquartered in Chiyodaku, Tokyo, Japan) recently announced the development of a new grade of high-performance, high-transparency bio-based engineering plastic called DURABIOTM, using plant-derived isosorbide as its raw material. The new material features excellent optical properties and high resistance to heat and humidity. MCC will move aggressively to promote sales of Durabio for use in touch panels on automobiles, a sector where demand is expected to increase significantly. Touch panels for automobiles are used mainly to control air conditioning, audio, and car navigation systems. Durabio offers excellent flexibility in design and can enhance the appearance of automobile interiors, so MCC anticipates much wider use and steady growth in demand. In contrast to easily breakable glass, transparent plastics such as impact-resistant polycarbonate, are used for the front plate of automobile touch panels for safety purposes. The disadvantage of polycarbonates, however, is distortion in light transmission, which makes it difficult for users to see the touch panel, so a material that could overcome this problem has been eagerly awaited. MCC’s new grade of Durabio features excellent optical properties, and nearly eliminates distortion in light transmission, making it easy to see the touch panel surface. MT Biodegradable exfoliator for shower gels Lessonia (Saint-Thonan – France) is a leading supplier of natural exfoliators for shower gels and peeling products. The company recently launched CELLULOSCRUB, a major innovation to replace the polyethylene beads in cosmetic products. Celluloscrub is a 100% renewable and biodegradable exfoliating ingredient made of modified cellulose extracted from wood pulp. It is said to offer the same high performance of PE. Other eco-friendly alternatives for PE beads are for example exfoliating products made from shells, kernels, minerals, bamboo, rice, natural waxes, PLA or microcrystalline cellulose. However, all these ingredients are inferior in all their characteristics compared to PE (i.e. white colour, stability, abrasiveness, suspension capacity, etc). Micro beads made of conventional plastics used as exfoliating ingredients in personal care products have raised concern among many environmental groups for its assumed impact on marine ecosystems. Because sewage and waste water treatment systems cannot filter out these non-biodegradable particles they are pumped straight into water courses and end up in the ocean where they cause irreparable damage to the oceans. Micro plastics are present in all the seas and oceans of the world. It is the responsibility of the cosmetic industry to reduce their impact on the environment. Leading cosmetics makers, such as Unilever or Lush, as a consequence, have announced their intention to phase out the use of these beads and are looking for environmental friendly alternatives. MT (Source: Lessonia) Pretreating cellulosic biomass Aphios Corporation of Woburn, Massachussetts, USA recently today announced that it was granted a US patent for its cellulosic biomass pretreatment technology platform (Aosic). Cellulosic biomass resources are currently greatly underutilized around the world. If effectively exploited, these resources can reduce climate change while alleviating several energy and environmental problems. Dr. Trevor P. Castor, inventor of the Aosic platform states that “Cellulosic biomass is tightly wound for obvious mechanical strength reasons. In order to breakdown cellulose into its individual sugar molecules, cellulosic biomass must be expanded to enhance the access of enzymes that cleave the polymeric bonds between individual sugar molecules.” Steam explosion is the most commercially used method for expanding cellulosic fibers that has several disadvantages including degradation of cellulose and hemicelluloses, the generation of toxic byproducts and high water and energy consumption. In the Aosic process, biomass is contacted with SuperFluids such as CO 2 with or without small quantities of polar cosolvents such as ethanol, both sourced from the downstream fermentation process. Pressure is released and fibers are made more accessible to enzymes as a result of expansive forces of SuperFluids (about 10 times those of steam explosion) and carbonic acid hydrolysis. Additional fiber separation is achieved by ejecting biomass through mechanical impact devices. Carbon dioxide is recovered and recycled; pressure energy is recovered in a turbine. Dr. Castor points out that “CO 2 is consumed in the Aosic process which is a net consumer of carbon. It also utilizes significantly less water than steam explosion and the dilute acid pre-hydrolysis pretreatment process. It can be used for wood cuttings, bagasse, newsprint, corn fodder and spent biomass from the manufacturing of natural pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals.” The primary potential application is pretreating biomass waste for conversion into ethanol which could then be used as a precursor for e.g. biobased Polyethylene or PET and much more. MT 6 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/14] Vol. 9

News Bacteria help convert syngas into Plexiglas For the first time, Evonik Industries has managed to use biotech methods to convert syngas to pure 2-hydroxyisobutyric acid (2-HIBA) under industrial conditions. 2-HIBA is a precursor used in the manufacture of PLEXIGLAS® (PMMA, Polymethyl methacrylate, acrylic glass). Waste gas is one example of a source of syngas. Syngases are gas mixtures consisting primarily of carbon monoxide or of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. These gases can be generated from municipal or agricultural waste, or from the waste gases produced in industries such as steel production. Syngas has been used for synthesizing chemicals for decades. For the ability to convert carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen into more valuable molecules, Evonik looked to bacteria from earth’s earliest history—to a time when oxygen was not yet present in earth’s atmosphere. Certain microorganisms today still contain the genetic information for these processes. Evonik has used their enzymes to create a cell factory that generates specialty chemicals from syngas. Evonik scientists are now working at top speed to optimize these ideas and develop them still further. “We have a long way to go before we can use bacteria for converting syngas to highquality specialty chemicals on a large industrial scale,” says magnetic_148, 175.00 lpi 15.00° 75.00° 0.00° 45.00° 14.03.2009 10:13:31 Prozess CyanProzess MagentaProzess GelbProzess Schwarz Dr. Thomas Haas, head of Biotechnology at Creavis, Evonik’s strategic innovation unit. “It will still take a couple of years until it is ready for the market.” As Haas explains, “We’re exploring third-generation biotechnology, because in addition to sugar or residual plant materials converted to syngas, waste from other sources such as municipal waste and industrial waste gas can also serve as raw materials. That makes us less dependent not only on fossil-based raw materials, but also on renewable resources that could potentially compete with the food supply.” 2-HIBA can also be produced via chemical synthesis. Both the chemically-produced and biotech-produced products can be converted to methyl methacrylate (MMA). MMA is used in paints, varnishes, and anti-rust coatings, as well as in soft contact lenses and dental implants. Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PLEXIGLAS®) is used for creating sheets, profiles, roofs, soundproof walls, molded components for automotive engineering applications, and backlight units for illuminating flat-screen monitors and televisions. MT Magnetic for Plastics • International Trade in Raw Materials, Machinery & Products Free of Charge • Daily News from the Industrial Sector and the Plastics Markets • Current Market Prices for Plastics. • Buyer’s Guide for Plastics & Additives, Machinery & Equipment, Subcontractors and Services. • Job Market for Specialists and Executive Staff in the Plastics Industry Up-to-date • Fast • Professional bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/14] Vol. 9 7

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