Good news, kemosabe: Reverdia and Wageningen UR launch development of new Bio-PBS compounds

May 19, 2016 |

BD TS 052016 PBS Reverdia smIn the Netherlands, Reverdia and Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research have launched a joint development programme on bio-based PBS (polybutylene succinate) compounds for injection moulding. The new bio-PBS compounds will be durable and based on Reverdia’s Biosuccinium.

PBS? It’s found in everything from boxes, bags, tableware, even mulching films. We want it to be durable and tough — but then we don’t want to last 10,000 years in landfill, either. PBS is in critical ways the Lone Ranger of thermoplastics. Tough enough to get the job done, stays while you need him, but leaves town with a “hi-yo, Silver, and away!”  Or should that be “bio, SIlver”?

And think of bio-based succinic acid as his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains — the pair leading the fight for a low-carbon world of bio-based materials.

Why PBS?

“PBS can be made from succinic acid,” Reverdia CEO Marcel Lubben tells us, “and among the thermoplastics, biodegradability is PBS’ unique selling proposition. Lamination, for example. Think about that shiny material inside a paper coffee cup. That can be PBS. Compostability and degradability is very important for the market in a number of applications, and PBS has it. There’s PLA, but that is very brittle, and you can have a lot of sound when it crackles. So, PBS has become important for production in Japan, China and a little in the EU. It’s complimentary to other plastics, you see it in blends where PBS can be used to fine tune properties as an ingredient in co-polymers. So, companies like MCC Showa and Denko drive PBS.”

The developments ahead

Development will focus on longevity, appearance and processing characteristics. Plastic product manufacturers such as RPC Promens and Teamplast will collaborate to validate the compounds in reusable horticultural crates and rigid food packaging with hinges. The final compounds are expected to have an improved carbon footprint in comparison to polypropylene which is typically used for these applications.

The Reverdia backstory

In 2012, Reverdia, the joint venture between DSM and Roquette Frères commenced  operations in Cassano Spinola, Italy, at a commercial-scale plant producing Biosuccinium — sustainable succinic acid. The plant has a capacity of 10,000 tonnes/yr. Key applications for Biosuccinium include polybutylene succinate (PBS), polyester polyols for polyurethanes, coating and composite resins, phthalate-free plasticizers, and 1,4 butanediol. End products include footwear, packaging and paints.

And in January, we reported that Reverdia and BioAmber inked a non-assert agreement concerning Reverdia’s Biosuccinium technology.  BioAmber and Reverdia are both involved in the production and commercialization of bio-based succinic acid using their own unique proprietary yeast-based technologies.

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Reaction from the stakeholders

“Raw material producers and manufacturers of the final products will test these new materials, ensuring that consumers will soon have bio-based and durable plastics in their hands,” said Lawrence Theunissen from Reverdia.

“The whole value chain is involved in developing these materials. An important objective of the project is to develop plastics from renewable raw materials with a much wider scope for application, and thus a larger market potential,” added Karin Molenveld of Wageningen UR.

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