bioplastics daily news
  • CO2 technology moves into TPU


    Covestro’s new polyether carbonate polyols, produced with the aid of carbon dioxide and marketed under the name cardyon, have now been incorporated for the first time in a commercial TPU.

    aDesmopan 37385A is the first of a new series of thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) based on the innovative technology and is being introduced at this year’s Fakuma show in Friedrichshafen next week (16-20 October).

    Compared to conventional TPU materials, the new TPU products leave a lower carbon footprint and help close the carbon cycle. They also conserve fossil resources and, unlike many bio-based materials, do not compete with food production.

    “With the new TPU, our customers can reduce the carbon footprint of their products and as a result play a pioneering role in sustainability vis-à-vis their competitors,” explains Georg Fuchte, TPU expert at Covestro. “This is especially true for companies in the consumer goods industry, which often manufacture products with a short lifespan.”

    Excellent mechanical properties
    Desmopan 37385A has a hardness of 85 Shore A. Its mechanical properties are at least at the level of conventional TPU grades of similar hardness, and even exceed some of them. For example, it has a tensile strength of 36 megapascals. The elongation at break reaches 660 percent (DIN 53504). The plastic is designed for extrusion but is also suitable for injection moulding. “The application spectrum covers typical applications of conventional TPU grades with comparable hardness and ranges from soles and upper shoe components to sportswear, handles and knobs to packaging for sensitive electronics,” says Fuchte.

    Different product variants
    Covestro plans to expand the new TPU series with variants of different hardness. A product with a hardness of 95 Shore A, for example, whose melt cures rapidly during processing, is well advanced in development. “We are thus targeting applications in which economic production in short cycle times is particularly important,” explains Fuchte.

    Covestro cooperates closely with companies and research institutions to use CO2 technology as a synthesis platform for other large-scale chemical raw materials. For example, work is underway on new CO2-based polyols for rigid polyurethane foams that could be used, for example, in the thermal insulation of buildings, in automobiles and in sports equipment. At the Dormagen plant, Covestro already operates a production plant that produces CO2-based polyols for flexible polyurethane foams. The latter are used in the commercial production of upholstered furniture and mattresses.

  • Commission puts forward action plan to develop a sustainable and circular bioeconomy


    A new European bioeconomy strategy is envisaged as part of the Commission's drive to boost jobs, growth and investment in the EU. The plan aims to improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable resources.

    aIn a world of finite biological resources and ecosystems, an innovation effort is needed to feed people, and provide them with clean water and energy. The bioeconomy can turn algae into fuel, recycle plastic, convert waste into new furniture or clothing or transform industrial by-products into bio-based fertilisers. It has the potential to generate 1 million new green jobs by 2030.
    Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said: "It has become evident that we need to make a systemic change in the way we produce, consume and discard goods. By developing our bioeconomy – the renewable segment of the circular economy – we can find new and innovative ways of providing food, products and energy, without exhausting our planet's limited biological resources. Moreover, rethinking our economy and modernising our production models is not just about our environment and climate. There is also great potential here for new green jobs, particularly in rural and coastal areas."
    Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, Carlos Moedas, added: "The EU aims to lead the way in turning waste, residue and discards into high value products, green chemicals, feed and textiles. Research and innovation plays a key role in accelerating the green transition of the European economy and in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."
    Delivering a sustainable circular bioeconomy requires a concerted effort by public authorities and industry. To drive this collective effort, and based on three key objectives, the Commission will launch 14 concrete measures in 2019, including:
    1. Scaling up and strengthening the bio-based sectors:
    To unleash the potential of the bioeconomy to modernise the European economy and industries for long-term, sustainable prosperity, the Commission will:

    • establish a €100 million Circular Bioeconomy Thematic Investment Platform to bring bio-based innovations closer to the market and de-risk private investments in sustainable solutions;
    • facilitate the development of new sustainable bio-refineries across Europe.

    2. Rapidly deploying bioeconomies across Europe:
    Member States and regions, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have a large underused biomass and waste potential. To address this, the Commission will:

    • develop a strategic deployment agenda for sustainable food and farming systems, forestry and bio-based products;
    • set up an EU Bioeconomy Policy Support Facility for EU countries under Horizon 2020 to develop national and regional bioeconomy agendas;
    • launch pilot actions for the development of bioeconomies in rural, coastal and urban areas, for example on waste management or carbon farming.

    3. Protecting the ecosystem and understanding the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy
    Our ecosystem is faced with severe threats and challenges, such as a growing population, climate change and land degradation. In order to tackle these challenges, the Commission will:

    • implement an EU-wide monitoring system to track progress towards a sustainable and circular bioeconomy;
    • enhance our knowled base and understanding of specific bioeconomy areas by gathering data and ensuring better access to it through the Knowledge Centre for the Bioeconomy;
    • provide guidance and promote good practices on how to operate in the bioeconomy within safe ecological limits.

    The Commission is hosting a conference on 22 October in Brussels to discuss the action plan with stakeholders and highlight tangible bio-based products.

  • VITO, Kaneka collaborate on biobased modified silane polymer


    MS polymer (or modified silane polymer to give its full name) is a liquid polymer made from petroleum derivatives that serves as a base material for high-quality elastic adhesives, sealants and coatings.

    mSince its invention in 1978, its use in sectors such as construction, transport and industry has consistently increased. "The basic product already has several tried-and-tested unique properties," says Richard Vendamme of VITO. "It is low in VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions and is solvent-free, which is good for the environment and human health. But there is also scope for innovation and improvement." Vendamme is referring to MS polymer’s high shear strength, among other things. "MS polymer is currently still too flexible, and not stiff enough, to continue to expand into certain new applications. What’s more, there is scope to improve its adhesive force, for example on moist subsoils such as showers or swimming pools."

    In order to make a genuine breakthrough, a bio-based product has to be ‘green’, as well as ‘better’. That fact has not escaped the attention of Kaneka Belgium in Oevel, where the Japanese chemical multinational has its European headquarters. Kaneka has already begun working together with VITO to develop an improved, bio-based version of its MS polymer, which has been one of the company’s most successful products for many years. The collaboration is part of an ambitious VLAIO [Flemish agency for innovation and enterprise] project worth 2.5 million euros. The Flemish government and Kaneka are each contributing half of the costs of the project, which was launched in June 2018 and will run for three years. The collaboration came about naturally, says Luc Peeters, R&D Manager at Kaneka: "We noticed that there is a great deal of knowledge and expertise available in Flanders in the field of bio-based chemistry, and this know-how is ready and waiting to be tapped into by companies such as ours. That is how we ended up working with VITO."

    Two birds with one stone

    Kaneka’s R&D department will be working closely with VITO until the summer of 2021 to develop an improved MS polymer based on lignin. Over past years, VITO has built up considerable expertise in the use of lignin, which is the second most commonly-occurring organic material on Earth after cellulose. "The best thing about it is that lignin naturally has a firm and rigid structure," explains Vendamme. "Plus, it is highly adhesive and moisture-resistant." By the end of project, the researchers hope to have killed two birds with one stone. "We want to make an end-product that is both bio-based and has even better properties."The (future) development of the new MS polymer will provide a boost for Kaneka’s Oevel site in any case. "It is a prime example of how VITO’s innovation can contribute towards the embedding of chemical companies in Flanders," comments Dirk Fransaer, Managing Director of VITO. "We are especially proud that our research, which we began long before there was any demand for sustainable alternatives, is being used in the chemicals industry, and in Flanders."

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