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Issue 04/2016

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Blow Moulding Blow

Blow Moulding Blow molding of WPC bottles About two years ago, Wonjae (Jason) Lee, International Business Department Manager of Doill ECOTEC Co., Ltd. in Hwaseong (close to Seoul, Korea) washed his hair and saw his shampoo bottle. He wondered why shampoo bottles are only available from pure plastic? The company, Jason works for is known for WPC compounds and products (next to some other products). So Jason just tried to make bottles from wood plastic compounds, as wood is just as familiar to people as is plastic. Doill Ecotec produces about 10,000 tonnes of WPC compounds and products per year with 50 employees on a floorspace of 10,000 m². And Jason explained that the company is proud of the stable quality of their products. The range of finished products comprises extruded or injection moulded WPC decking board, pergola, fences, siding, sound-proof wall profiles, window profiles, WPC cutting board, WPC chairs, cosmetics containers, flower pots, ball point pens and other daily products. And now also bottles… After about one year of development, the bottles could be presented at Chinaplas 2016 in Shanghai. “Many visitors from all over the world were interested in the bottles, as well as journalists from plastic magazines,” Jason proudly told bioplastics MAGAZINE. Jason described one of the biggest challenges in the development phase was finding the optimal wood content: “If the wood content is too high, there are technical problems such as burnt spots or small holes in the bottles,” he said. “On the other hand, if it is too low, the final bottle is not as eco-friendly as it could be.” While too much wood content leads to lower cost it also leads to lower properties compared to pure plastic. In the end, after optimizing the wood content, process parameters such as screw speed (RPM), extruder – and mould temperatures etc. Jason was able to produce functional bottles. The main advantage of WPC bottles is their lower need for conventional plastics. And Doill Ecotec is only using waste wood flour, i.e. the saw dust from wood processing. Today the company offers WPC bottles in all shapes, e.g. round, square and oval in sizes of 1 litre. 200ml and 500 ml are also already tried and tested. Volumes larger than 1 litre will also be possible, as Jason is optimistic enough to tell. The first square shampoo bottles can already be found on supermarket shelves in Korea, and people can buy them via the internet. Currently Doill is discussing potential blow moulding applications with customers from the packaging and the cosmetics sector. Jason Lee: “As Nike’s slogan Just do it I just did it. And I hope that many readers and plastic product manufacturers will develop many kinds of biobased plastic products. We should care for our earth and also resolve environment problems.” MT 16 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11

Blow Moulding A new, cost-effective route to PEF Since the US Department of Energy named 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) as one of the top 12 platform chemicals, it has been considered a holy grail for bioplastics, alongside its downstream polymer polyethylenefuranoate (PEF). However, the road has been bumpy and the main challenge is to find a process which allows price competitiveness with petro-based alternatives. Brand owners also need to get on board – Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle may replace all its petro-based bottles by 2020 as promised, but more brands need to make similar commitments. However, we are one step closer to bringing FDCA and PEF to market. A hydrothermal processing (HTP) technology developed by Swiss biotechnology company AVA-CO2 yields substantial advantages over other technologies. Other processes use highly-toxic methanol as a solvent in dehydrating fructose which must be eliminated by an extra, costly distillation and purification step. Methanol-based processes also immediately transform most of the 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (5- HMF) into 5-MMF (Methoxymethylfurfural), which is inefficient and impacts negatively on yields. AVA-CO2’s process uses water as a solvent, meaning a less costly, more environmentallyfriendly process, which leads to better LCA results and significantly higher yields. AVA-CO2 also recently announced a simple interface which allows a tailored use of different solvents, e.g. acetic acid, in existing FDCA oxidation processes. This solvent switch allows 5-HMF to be used as a drop-in for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) pro- Generic bottle picture (not PEF) (Shutterstock, HSNphotography) duction plants. The HTP technology now supports the main FDCA oxidation routes – biological, enzymatic, chemical and electro-chemical oxidation of 5-HMF to FDCA. This flexibility, in combination with AVA-CO2’s innovative process, will make a difference in the race to PEF. Compared to PET, PEF is a more sustainable option, with a 50 % less carbon footprint and better recyclability. It also has many superior product characteristics – with higher tensile strength and improved gas barriers in oxygen, CO 2 and moisture, PEF allows for energy savings and reductions in material use compared to PET. This leads to a longer shelf life, thereby reducing food waste. Recent joint development announcements across the value chain show that PEF is regarded as an important strategic development. For AVA-CO2, a large-scale sugar-based production plant (LSPP) is already in the pipeline. Set to produce 30,000 tonnes/year of FDCA in a first phase, the LSPP will ramp up to 120,000 tonnes/ year of FDCA at full capacity. Set to come online in 2019/2020, a first round of financing for the plant has already been completed by AVA- CO2. AVA-CO2 is in talks with industry leaders to develop new downstream chemistry pathways and exploit the potential of 5-HMF, FDCA and PEF. The LSPP will accelerate market development of 100 % sugar-based beverage and food packaging. Through PEF, sugarbased chemicals and polymers for the mass market are just around the corner. MT bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/16] Vol. 11 17

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