Major chemical firms BASF and DSM seem to be significantly increasing their presence in the bioplastic arena especially this year. DSM and Genomatica last week announced that it has tested and approved the use of Genomatica’s bio-based 1,4 butanediol (BDO) in its Arnitel® TPC (ThermoPlastic Copolyester).
Arnitel is a high-performance engineering plastic with flexibility, high temperature resistance, strength and excellent processing characteristics. Industry applications automotive/transportation, packaging, furniture, consumer goods/sports, and electrical and electronics materials.
The first two products under the Arnitel line that will use Genomatica’s bio-BDO are Arnitel Eco and Arnitel VT:
- Arnitel Eco already has a bio-based content of 22-53% (made with rapeseed oil) depending on the hardness. The introduction of BDO made with Genomatica’s process will increase the bio-based content up to 73%. Arnitel Eco is being used for food packaging films and for a number of soft touch applications in consumer electronics.
- Arnitel VT is a very flexible material that, when made into membranes just a few microns thick, is 100% waterproof but also highly breathable and comfortable. The primary application is in outdoor apparel and shoes. Currently, Arnitel VT products are not bio-based. The planned use of BDO made with Genomatica’s process will result in an Arnitel VT that is up to 22% bio-based.
DSM said it plans to start transitioning its Arnitel portfolio to the new bio-BDO as soon as supplies are readily available from one of the producers that Genomatica licenses to use its BDO process. Genomatica has been partnering left and right with big companies in the use of of its bio-BDO that includes BASF, Lanxess, Far Eastern New Corporation (FENC), Versalis, Novamont, Toray, Mitsubishi Chemical…did I forget any other company??
DSM said Genomatica’s BDO was of higher purity than typical fossil-based BDO and when used to form polymers, the bio-BDO reportedly delivers equivalent in-spec behavior and properties of the polymers compared to using petroleum-based BDO, therefore it requires no changes in DSM’s processes. Licensees of Genomatica’s bio-BDO process now includes BASF and Novamont. Genomatica it seems is still negotiating with Mitsubishi Chemical on the possibility of bio-BDO production in Asia.
Back to DSM, the company also recently announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with Minnesota, US-based PlastiComp Inc. to develop new bio-based long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) composite materials for the automotive and other performance-driven markets using DSM’s EcoPaXX bio-based polyamide 4,10.
DSM said initial compounding, molding, and testing of carbon-fiber reinforced EcoPaXX was successful in establishing benchmark composites for high-temperature and structural applications. The partners will will also collaborate with potential customers to design injection-molded composite parts. While the principal focus of the partnership is on automotive applications, composites that they will develop will also have potential in other metal-replacement applications such as electro-magnetic interference (EMI) shielding for electronics and radiolucency in X-ray applications.