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issue 04/2021

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Highlights: Toys Thermoforming Basics: Bio-Polypropylene

Basics Biobased

Basics Biobased polypropylene By: Michael Thielen CH 3 H | | — C — C — | | H H n Polypropylene Among the most important and most commonly used plastics are polyolefins (polyethylene PE and polypropylene PP). They are easily recognised by the fact that their density is less than 1 g/cm³ – i.e. they float in water. Both PE and PP can be produced from renewable resources. Polypropylene has a wide range of applications, spanning automobile parts to medical care products, home appliances, housing and food products [1]. The annual production capacity worldwide is about 80 million tonnes (2018) [2]. Bio-polypropylene There are several possibilities for producing the monomer propylene C 3 H 6 from renewable resources [1]. In 2008 and at the K-fair 2010, Braskem (Brazil) announced they were planning a propylene plant using sugarcane as a feedstock resource, fermented to ethanol. Although the company has not revealed the renewable source of its bio-PP, Braskem has been working on making PP from biomass, such as the leftover sugarcane stalks and leaves [3, 4] . Another route, as published by Neste (Espoo, Finland) is to use biobased raw materials - primarily waste and residue oils and fats, such as used cooking oil to produce renewable feedstock called Neste RE️. Neste RE is suitable to replace conventional fossil resource-based feedstock at existing polymers and chemicals production facilities. Neste is cooperating with several companies to produce bio-based and renewable polymers and chemicals such as bio-based PP and bio-based PE from their Neste RE. Neste collaborated with German LyondellBasell to produce bio-based polypropylene and bio-based polyethylene for the first time in the world on a commercial scale. The production took place at LyondellBasell’s Wesseling plant (near Cologne, Germany) as announced in June 2019 [5, 8, 9, 10]. In April 2021, LyondellBasell launched the Circulen family of products, and in June 2021 LyondellBasell and Neste announced a long-term commercial agreement under which LyondellBasell will source Neste RE to be processed into polymers and sold under the CirculenRenew brand name. LyondellBasell offers potential customers an approx. 30 % biobased PP variant made from Neste’s raw material. With growing demand, higher contents of biogenic raw materials are also possible, and the volumes can potentially become significantly larger. Depending on how these processes and approaches develop, biobased contents of up to approx. 75 % are possible in the next years. Depending on the biobased content and market conditions, a significant price premium (in the order of 50–100 %) can be expected. In the future, however, the additional costs could be offset by a CO 2 -tax [12]. Another cooperation partner of Neste using a different production approach is Borealis (headquartered in Vienna, Austria) [11]. In 2020 Borealis started to produce polypropylene (PP) based on Neste RE renewable feedstock in its production facilities in Kallo and Beringen, Belgium. After producing renewable propane using its proprietary NextBTL️ technology (BTL = biomass to liquid), Neste sells the renewable propane to the Borealis propane dehydrogenation plant in Kallo. Here it is converted to renewable propylene, then subsequently to renewable PP. The third processing route to produce bio-PP was announced in 2019 by Japanese Mitsui Chemical (headquartered in Minato, Prefecture Tokyo, Japan) in cooperation with Kasei (Tokyo, Japan) [1]. Their production route involves the fermentation of various types of biomass – mainly non-edible plants – to produce isopropanol (IPA), which is then dehydrated to obtain propylene in a first-of-its-kind IPA method. Compared to other biomass production approaches studied by other companies thus far, Mitsui assumes this route could prove to be a more cost-effective way to manufacture bio-PP. It was announced that Kaisei would cultivate biomass raw materials used by Mitsui Chemicals, collect wastes generated from biomass raw materials, and supply electricity to manufacturing facilities and manufactures fertilizers through its effective use. In May 2021, Mitsui Chemical also launched a cooperation with Neste and Toyota Tsusho, introducing Neste-produced bio-based hydrocarbons as feedstock for their crackers to eventually produce plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene. In addition to these, Neste is also collaborating with LG Chem to develop and grow the biopolymers and biochemicals market globally, and more specifically, in LG Chem’s home market South Korea. Early adopters Continuing a partnership established in 2016, Neste and Ikea (Sweden) announced plans for commercial-scale pilot production of biobased polypropylene in 2019. The partners said the facility would be the first large-scale production of renewable PP globally and be able to also produce renewable PE. Both polymers would have a renewable content of about 20 %. Initially, Ikea planned to use the new plastic in a few products in its current range, such as storage boxes. By 2030, the retailer wants all plastic products sold in its stores to be made of recycled or renewable materials. 54 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/21] Vol. 16 Download the free bioplastics MAGAZINE App! Basics conventional petrochemical method Braskem approach Neste approach Mitsui Chemicals approach Crude oil Raw biomass materials biodiesel by-product, sustainably produced vegetable oils, or used cooking oils Raw biomass materials Naphtha Bio Ethanol renewable cracker feed NextBTL Bio Isopropanol (Bio IPA) Propylene Bio Propylene Bio propylene Bio Propylene Polypropylene Bio Polypropylene Bio Polypropylene Bio Polypropylene Refereces [1] N.N.: Mitsui Chemicals working on commercialisation bio-PP; meldungen/20190930Mitsui-Chemicals-working-oncommercialisation--bio-PP.php [2] N.N.: Global Propylene Market and Polypropylene Market, https://, Internet access Oct. 2019 [3] [4] [5] Lipponen, K.: Pionierarbeit auch bei biobasierten Kunststoffen,, Internet access Sept. 2019 [6] N.N.: Kunststoff aus altem Öl und Reststoffen soll zu Lebensmittelverpackungen werden, neste-und-lyondellbasell-entiwckeln-biobasierte-kunststoffe-fuerlebensmittelverpackungen/, Internet access Sept. 2019 [7] Lipponen, K.: IKEA and Neste take a significant step towards a fossilfree future, Internet access Sept. 2019 [8] N.N.: Polyolefins from bio-naphtha / Commercial-scale pilot plant to start-up in autumn, NESTE_t240099/, Internet access Sept. 2019 [9] Lipponen, K.: IKEA and Neste take a significant step towards a fossilfree future,, Internetzugriff März 2020 [10] Stark, A.: Neste und Lyondell Basell starten kommerzielle Produktion von biobasierten Kunststoffen, https://www.process., Internetzugriff März 2020 [11] N.N: Borealis produziert zertifiziertes, erneuerbares Polypropylen in Belgien,, Internetzugriff März 2020 [12] Our free Android and iOS App lets you read bioplastics MAGAZINE on your mobile device. You can easily read bioplastics MAGAZINE not only on your smartphone, but on your tablet as well. NEW ! Our 15 th anniversary gift to you: Read all issues back to 2006 on your mobile device*. Try it now! Go to the Google Play Store or Apple App-Store search for “bioplasticsmagazine“. The QR Code will lead you to the respective store automatically. You can also check out the new ePaper webkiosk at: *: (may become a paid service after 2021) bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/21] Vol. 16 55

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