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Issue 03/2022

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Highlights: Injection Moulding Beauty & Healthcare Basics: Biocompatibility of PHA Starch

From Science & Research

From Science & Research succinic acid. This will translate into the opportunity to close the carbon loop of the process and to obtain a valuable building block that Novamont can integrate into its production of biodegradable and compostable biomaterials for application in different sectors (e.g. packaging, biowaste collection, agriculture) to further enhance the renewable content of the final biobased products. In this way, the biogenic CO 2 becomes a valuable feedstock, allowing additional reduction of GHG emissions of the process and boosting Novamont implementation to become a nearly zero-waste biorefinery. Nutrition Science is a private company that supplies sustainable and economically viable solutions for the efficient production of animal feed and feed ingredients within the food value chain. Their participation in VIVALDI provides the project with an excellent opportunity to evaluate the potential of CO 2 -based bio-lactic acid in the animal feed industry while at the same time giving Nutrition Science a platform to explore the conversion of farm-generated gases to value-added compounds that can be utilised at the site. Lactic acid is added to the feed for two reasons: 1. to improve the taste and as a result also the organoleptic perception and the feed intake and 2. to inhibit the growth of pathogens in the gut. The downstream processing is designed to ensure that the produced lactic acid fulfils the requirements of specific legislation and does not contain any critical contaminants. Overall, the CO 2 -based industry aiming at the production of bioplastics provides an exciting opportunity in the view of a more sustainable chemical industry. The main sources of reduction of GHG emissions reduction are: 1. preventing CO 2 release, 2. decreasing the use of fossil-based resources for their chemical synthesis and 3. designing efficient fermentation and downstream processing. For example, for most acids, recovery should be carried out at low pH (below the product pKa) and yeasts, such as P. pastoris, can tolerate such low pH conditions, which was found to have a significantly lower impact on energy utilisation (38–51 %) and climate change (67–92 %) in the posterior downstream processing when compared to the petrochemical counterparts [8]. References [1] European Commission, A European Strategy for Plastics, Eur. Com. (2018) 24. [2] P. Izadi & F. Harnisch. “Microbial| electrochemical CO 2 reduction: To integrate or not to integrate?.” Joule (2022) In press. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.joule.2022.04.005 [3] COWI A/S, Utrecht University, Environmental impact assessment of innovative bio-based products - Summary of methodology and conclusions, 2018. [4] B.G. Hermann, K. Blok, M.K. Patel, Producing bio-based bulk chemicals using industrial biotechnology saves energy and combats climate change, Environ. Sci. Technol. 41 (2007) 7915–7921. es062559q. [5] E. Mancini, S.S. Mansouri, K. V Gernaey, J. Luo, M. Pinelo, From second generation feed-stocks to innovative fermentation and downstream techniques for succinic acid production, Crit. Rev. Environ. Sci. Technol. 50 (2020) 1829–1873. [6] J. Becker, A. Lange, J. Fabarius, C. Wittmann, Top value platform chemicals: bio-based production of organic acids, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 36 (2015) 168–175. [7] 2021 Global Forecast for Succinic Acid Market (2022-2027 Outlook) - High Tech & Emerging Markets Report, Barnes reports. [8] B. Cok, I. Tsiropoulos, A.L. Roes, M.K. Patel, Succinic acid production derived from carbohydrates: An energy and greenhouse gas assessment of a platform chemical toward a bio-based economy, Biofuels, Bioprod. Biorefining. 8 (2014) 16–29. [9] R.A. de Oliveira, A. Komesu, C.E.V. Rossell, and R. Maciel Filho, Challenges and opportunities in lactic acid bioprocess design—From economic to production aspects. Biochemical Engineering Journal 133 (2018) 219–239. [10] Grand View Research (GVR). (2021). Lactic acid market size, share & trends analysis report by raw material (sugarcane, corn, cassava), by application (PLA, food, & beverages), by region, and segment forecasts, 2021–2028. [11] A. Djukić-Vuković, D. Mladenović, J. Ivanović, J. Pejin, & L. Mojović, Towards sustainability of lactic acid and poly-lactic acid polymers production. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 108 (2019) 238–252. [12] F. K. Adom, & J. B. Dunn, Life cycle analysis of corn-stover-derived polymer-grade l-lactic acid and ethyl lactate: greenhouse gas emissions and fossil energy consumption. Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining 11(2) (2017) 258–268. [13] T. Gassler, M. Sauer, B. Gasser, M. Egermeier, C. Troyer, T. Causon, S. Hann, D. Mattanovich& M.G. Steiger, The industrial yeast Pichia pastoris is converted from a heterotroph into an autotroph capable of growth on CO2. Nature Biotechnology 38(2) (2020) 210–216. 019-0363-0. 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 24 bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17

Earthworm diet PLA vs. PET Earthworms are a welcome sight for gardeners and farmers because the wriggling invertebrates recycle nutrients from soil, making them more accessible to plants. As worms burrow, they consume almost everything in their path, including microscopic plastic pollution. Now, researchers reporting in American Chemical Society’s (ACS – Washington, DC, USA) Environmental Science & Technology have observed that earthworms actually prefer soil with some types of microplastics but digest the polymers differently, which the team suggests could impact the animals’ health and the ecosystem. Soil is becoming increasingly contaminated by fragments of plastic – especially microplastics less than 5 mm wide – that have broken off of larger plastic waste or have been directly released from products as small particles. Previously, researchers have shown that earthworms will ingest these synthetic particles, even breaking them apart into smaller pieces. But during the digestion process, animals could potentially be harmed by the microplastics themselves or by the toxic substances they carry. Bioplastics, just like traditional plastics, can also fragment into microscopic particles, but there is limited information on whether earthworms will also ingest and decompose these materials. So, Lei Wang and colleagues wanted to compare the willingness of earthworms to consume soil laced with microscopic pieces of bioplastic and petroleum-derived plastic, studying the in vitro digestion and excretion of the particles. By placing earthworms in chambers with different types of plastics in certain locations in the soil, the researchers found that worms preferred soils with biobased polylactic acid (PLA) particles or petroleum-derived polyethylene terephthalate (PET) particles but actively avoided some semi-synthetic plastics. When lactic acid and terephthalic acid, sour-smelling monomers that makeup PLA and PET, respectively, were spiked into soil, the worms were also attracted, suggesting that the animals were drawn in by the odours as potential cues for food. In another experiment, the researchers put earthworms in soil mixed with either microscopic PLA or PET particles. Analysis of the creatures’ excretions showed that their digestive systems broke down PLA into much smaller fragments than was observed with PET plastics. The animals also excreted PLA much more slowly. The researchers say the results show that earthworms can promote the breakdown of bioplastics, such as PLA, in soil. They add that more studies are needed to determine how the slow excretion of PLA fragments affects the health of these animals and whether the worms are an option to remove degradable plastics from the environment. The authors acknowledge funding from a National Key Research and Development Project of China, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Tianjin Municipal Science and Technology Bureau, the Ministry of Education (China) and the Tianjin Research Innovation Project for Postgraduate Students. AT From Science & Research bioplastics MAGAZINE [03/22] Vol. 17 25

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