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Issue 04/2015

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Blow moulding

Blow moulding polyesters. Also processing can typically be done on equipment designed for PET, other polyesters and often even other plastics. In many cases, only changes in conditions are required, or minor adaptations to equipment that are common when switching to different materials or different grades of the same material. Avantium in collaboration with partners has proven various processing techniques for PEF such as Injection Stretch Blow Molding (ISBM) for bottles, sheet extrusion and thermoforming for trays and cups, cast film extrusion followed by biaxial orientation for thin packaging films and PEF fiber spinning for applications ranging from apparel and carpets to technical fibers for tire cords and seat belts. As described in the previous section similar to PET the processing of PEF follows an injection or extrusion process followed by an orientation process to create the strain induced crystallization, optionally followed by a heat set. The lower melt point of PEF typically allows lower processing temperatures than PET which can save energy costs, while the processing window is wide enough to typically allow smooth operation. Furthermore, PEF is similar enough to PET to allow recycling according to the same processing steps that are found in the many PET recycling processes. PEF in bottles and beyond The improved barrier properties of PEF have been confirmed time after time in the bottles, which was PEF’s first target application. PEF’s mechanical properties allow for more design options and better shaping of bottles, as well as the possibility to make the walls thinner while maintaining the integrity of the bottle during top-load and handling. The combination of barrier and strength brings the potential for making lighter bottles than what is possible today with PET, as well as smaller bottles with a higher surface to volume ratio without compromising the shelf-life. This opens up bottle applications where only non-PET or multilayer structures can be used today, which are more costly and less sustainable. For example, using PEF in small soft-drink containers will allow these to meet the shelf life requirements that today can only be achieved in PET structures with barrier technologies. This meets the current consumer preference for smaller packaging performance, reducing calorie intake. Another example are PEF beer bottles for sports or other events, where conventional packaging such as glass or cans are usually not allowed for safety reasons, and a high oxygen barrier is needed to avoid staling of the beer. Glass Aluminium Foil Carton The PET bottle market alone amounts to US$ 40 billion. However, the excellent properties of PEF as demonstrated above and its sustainability credentials create opportunities in the wider packaging field, as an alternative not just for PET or plastics but for a broader range of packaging materials, depending on its application and the relevance of the PEF properties. PEF is well positioned to compete across many of the other packaging segments (glass packaging, food/beverage in pouch, food in tray, beverage and food in metal cans, beverage and food in carton). Global trends, such as sustainability, health and convenience in the food packaging world underscore the long term potential for PEF. Sustainability of PEF PEF is produced using fully renewable resources which initially will be corn or wheat based sugars (first generation bio-feedstock). Over time, second generation (cellulosic biomass) sources of industrial sugars such as (waste) wood, wheat-straw, corn stover or bagasse will become economically viable to further strengthen the sustainable supply chain. The environmental footprint compared to petro-based plastics as well as other materials can be reduced significantly (e. g., PEF can reduce carbon emissions with 50 – 70 % compared to petroleum based PET and 50 % reduction in non-renewable energy use when produced at industrial scale) [7]. Table 2: Barrier properties of basic BOPEF compared to PET, PP and PL Material BOPEF [4] BOPET [4] BOPET [5] BOPP [6] BOPLA [7] OTR, cc-mm/m 2 -day-atm 0.15 – 0.51 2.4 – 3.3 2.0 – 6.0 42 17 CO 2 TR, cc-mm/m 2 -day-atm 1.4 – 2.6 24 – 28 21 – 22 100 70 WVTR, g-mil/100in 2 -day 0.6 1.3 1.0 – 2.0 0.25 – 0.4 24 18 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/15] Vol. 10

Blow moulding PEF is 100 % recyclable, and can be sorted from PET and other plastics by conventional infrared sorting technologies. Recycling studies have been performed to determine the acceptable levels of PEF that can be blended in the PET stream, which will be reviewed with the recycling industry’s organization bodies. In order to use PEF as a material for food and beverage packaging food contact approvals are required. Avantium has completed the required test protocols successfully and received a positive scientific opinion from the EFSA, the European regulatory body. The EFSA advised the European Commission to include PEF in the legislation as an accepted material for food and beverage packaging in 2014, which will be effective by the end of 2015. The US FDA process has been initiated after completion of the EFSA filing and is targeted to be completed in 2017, and should be based on the final resin composition taken into production. The barrier properties of PEF help to extend product shelf life, which can reduce economical losses and food and beverages waste by spoiling during transport and storage. PEF: the next generation polymer with blockbuster potential The world is changing and the growing world population is accelerating its consumption rapidly. The consumer is becoming more concerned about the sustainability of products and production and is demanding a larger variety in products and packaging options meeting health and lifestyle trends. PEF a 100 % biobased material with a large performance benefits over PET, can meet this consumer demand. Avantium is therefore collaborating with partners to develop new packaging applications which take advantage of the PEF performance characteristics and resonate with the consumers demands. Avantium is collaborating with ALPLA, Danone, and The Coca-Cola Company on PEF bottles, with OMV/Polytype on PEF thermoforming, and with undisclosed partners on PEF thin films and fibers. To bring PEF to the consumer, Avantium is currently performing engineering studies for the first commercial PEF plant which is targeted to go into production three years from now. This plant will focus on those applications where the sustainability advantages and performance benefits of PEF can bring the highest value. As next step Avantium will license out the PEF technology or partner with chemical manufacturing companies to construct and operate industrial scale PEF plants. At industrial scale PEF will be cost competitive to current packaging materials allowing for a broader introduction of PEF into commodity markets. In summary PEF shows an outstanding performance on all fronts: sustainability, properties and manufacturability, and can therefore truly be considered the polyester of the future. References [1] S. Burgess et al., Macromolecules, 2014, funded by The Coca-Cola Company [2] S. Burgess et al., Polymer, 2014, funded by The Coca-Cola Company [3] S. Burgess et al., Macromolecules, 2015, funded by The Coca-Cola Company [4] Internal results YXY technologies [5] Osborn & Jenkins, “Plastic Films: Technology and Packaging Applications”, CRC Press, 1992 [6] Natureworks Technical data sheet 4043D [7] A.J.J.E. Eerhart et al., Energy and Environmental Science, 2012 Table 3: Mechanical properties of basic BOPEF compared to PET, PP and PLA Material BOPEF [4] BOPET [4] BOPET [5] BOPP [6] BOPLA [7] Tensile modulus, GPa 4.5 – 8.0 3.9 – 5.3 3.3 – 3.5 2.4 3.6 Max tensile Strength, MPa 120 – 250 170 – 250 140 – 180 184 123 Elongation at break, % 40 – 80 60 – 120 90 – 110 80 130 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/15] Vol. 10 19

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