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Issue 06/2021

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Highlights: Coating Films, Flexibles, Bags Basics: Cellulose based bioplastics

Basics Cellulose A

Basics Cellulose A needed shift towards a sustainable biobased circular economy and the role of cellulose in it Residue producer Storage & Logistics Biomass digaestion Direct utilisation Sustainability assessment (e.g. LCA) Lignocellulose Nutrients / valuables Food sections Fibre and textile production Food production Agricultural production End products Textile Food Agriculture Figure 1: New value chains based on biogenic residues for textile, food and agricultural industries in INGRAIN Overview of possibilities presented by utilization of cellulose Cellulose is one of the most important scaffold formers in the biosphere and an abundant raw material with highly interesting properties to science and industry. Cellulose is formed by linkages of single D-glucose building blocks. It is considered 100 % biodegradable [2], semi crystalline [3], and can be chemically modified. As cellulose is the primary component of plant-based cell walls, it can be found in high weight percentages especially in wood and cotton but also in crops such as corn and wheat to name a few known examples, that are currently in technical use. [4] However, from an ecological point of view, the use of potential food crops or cotton is not sustainable in the long run, as precious space and resources that would otherwise have been used for the food or textile industry, now has to be converted for technical use. [5] Various pioneers took the mission to focus on sustainable biobased solutions and shifted from using primary cellulose feedstocks to utilizing readily available waste materials such as various straw and grass types, wood chips, and chaff which indicates the shift from 1 st generation to 2 nd generation feedstocks, enabled by physical or chemical biomass transformation technologies such as Steam Explosion, Soda-, Kraft-, Organosolv, and the holistic Organocat process. [6–9] Focusing on the rapidly expanding research and product development worldwide over the past decade, the current knowledge of cellulose and its chemistry including the use of derivatives are found in well-known products such as coatings, films, membranes, building materials, textiles, composite materials and biobased polymers. [10] While direct plant fibres are easily accessible for the textile industry the need for refined materials with customizable properties are of higher interest. Pure cellulose can be industrially found predominantly in form of paper pulp or chemical pulp. Depending on whether the pulp is intended for regeneration or derivatization, each field requires its own set of processes. While paper pulp tolerates higher impurities such as lignin and hemicellulose the chemical pulp also known as dissolving grade pulp is mainly defined through its high cellulose quality. Due to its susceptibility to certain chemicals, cellulose can be effectively functionalized in processes such as etherification, nitration, acetylation, and xanthation. Cellulose ethers can be used as food additives, binders, and glues. The well-known nitrocellulose for film bases from the early 20 th century can be made via nitration. Cellulose acetates are used as filaments in cigarette filters or mouldings, and films. Xanthation is one step especially well known through the viscose process, heavily used in the textile industry. The highly versatile viscose process is one way to generate filaments, staple fibres, cords and yarns as well as cellophane films, sponges, and casings. Other processes that are of importance in regard to regeneration are Cupro, Lyocell/Tencell, Vulcanized fibre as well as Loncell that are of importance in the textile industry. Among others, the regenerated cellulose finds application in apparel-, home-, and technical textiles. Technical textiles include geo-agro textiles, insulation and composite materials. [11, 12] Since cellulose consists of single unit glucose molecules, the possible use cases once biotechnology comes into play are enormous. With enzymes being able to break down cellulose and organisms being able to process glucose to platform chemicals, the path to future biobased plastics is accessible. By far the best-known platform chemical known to date is ethanol. Bioethanol has been in the spotlight for the last few decades with multiple companies, investing in commercial facilities to process either lignocellulose, starch or sugar in ethanol that can be used in fuel mixing to produce e.g. the E20 high-performance biofuel mixture. Other uses for biobased ethanol include bio-PE or MEG (monoethylene glycol) produce bio-PET or PEF. Other important platform-chemicals are succinic acid, levulinic acid, 3-hydropropionic acid, furfural, hydroxymethylfurfural (5 HMF), and lactic acid. Through these platform chemicals, polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA) and Polybutylene succinate (PBS) can 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/21] Vol. 16

Figure 1: Overview of a simplified cellulose value chain from biomass Basics be synthesized. PLA originates from lactic acid while PBS has its origin from succinic acid as a building block. Under certain conditions these biopolymers are biodegradable and thus interesting to the food, packaging, agro- and textile industry especially. On the other hand, drop-in solutions such as polyethylene furanoate (PEF) from bio-MEG and 5 HMF based FDCA present a suitable option for the industry as PEF is currently known to be a perfect replacement of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). [13-15] Sources: [1] [2] [3] M. Mariano, N.E. Kissi, A. Dufresne, J. Polym. Sci. Part B: Polym. Phys., 2014, 52: 791-806. [4] C. Ververis, K. Georghiou, N. Christodoulakis, P. Santas, R. Santas, J. Ind. Crop. 2004, 3, 245-254 [5] Eisentraut, A., IEA Energy Papers, 2010, No. 2010/01, OECD Publishing, Paris [6] H-Z. Chen, Z-H. Liu, Biotechnol. J. 2015, 10, 6, 866-885 [7] D. Montane, X. Farriol, J. Salvado, P. Jollez, E.Chornet, Biomass and Energy, 1998, 14, 3, 241-276 [8] A. Johansson, O. Aaltonen, P. Ylinen, Biomass, 1987, 13, 1, 45-65 [9] P.M. Grande, J. Viell, N.Theyssen, W. Marquardt, P. D. Maria, W. Leitner, Green Chem., 2015,17, 3533-3539 [10] Nova-Institute GmbH, Industrial Material Use of Biomass in Europe 2015, [11] Strunk, Peter. “Characterization of cellulose pulps and the influence of their properties on the process and production of viscose and cellulose ethers.” (2012). [12] Seisl S., Hengstmann R., Manmade Cellulosic Fibres (MMCF)—A Historical Introduction and Existing Solutions to a More Sustainable Production. In: Matthes A., Beyer K., Cebulla H., Arnold M.G., Schumann A. (eds) Sustainable Textile and Fashion Value Chains. Springer, Cham. (2020) [13] Biopolymers- Facts and statistics, Institute for Bioplastics and Bio composites, 2018 [14] McAdam, B., Brennan Fournet, M., McDonald, P., & Mojicevic, M. (2020). Polymers, 12(12), 2908 [15] S. Saravanamurugan, A. Pandey, R. S. Sangwan, Biofuels, 2017, 51-67 INGRAIN, short for “Spitze im Westen: Innovationsbündnis Agrar-Textil-Lebensmittel” (Innovation Alliance – Agro-Textile-Nutrition) has a set goal to upcycle residual streams to valuables and nutrition. Since the approval by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in late August 2021, the project focuses on and around the westernmost administrative district in Germany, the rural district of Heinsberg (State: North Rhine-Westphalia), which has been characterized by various structural changes for decades including the decline of the formerly formative textile industry, end of coal mining, including its regional neighbourhood. With a possible funding capped at EUR 15 million for a duration of 6 years, INGRAIN focuses to create a biobased circular economy within that project region. The program will be self-governed by the key consortium creating a new approach to fast-track projects that are of high importance to the overall goal. The key consortium consists of the Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft für den Kreis Heinsberg mbH, Institute of Textile technology and Chair for Information Management in Material Engieering of the RWTH Aachen University, Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences Mönchengladbach as well as Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences Kleve. In this program, cellulose among other important resources is of high interest due to the mass flux within and around the project region.[1] By: Sea-Hyun, Lee Scientific Assistant Institut für Textiltechnik RWTH Aachen University Aachen, Germany bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/21] Vol. 16 39

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