MATERIALS AND SOLIDS PROCESSING
More joint ventures as chemical companies chase biotech prizes
Links between biotech companies and chemical companies are becoming stronger as the search continues for sustainable sources of energy and raw materials. Sean Ottewell reports.
Les liens entre les sociétés de chimie et les sociétés de biotechnologie se resserrent dans une quête commune de ressources durables d’énergie et de matières premières. Sean Ottewell rapporte.
Die Verbindung zwischen Biotech- Firmen und Chemieunternehmen wird immer stärker, während die Suche nach nachhaltigen Energie- und Rohstoffquellen andauert. Ein Bericht von Sean Ottewell.
S company Metabolix, an industrial biotechnology company focused on developing clean, sustainable solutions for plastics, chemicals and energy, has revealed the latest advances in its search for advanced genetic engineering approaches to achieve high levels of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) in tobacco crops. The plastid genome of the research crop tobacco was engineered using Metabolix’s multi-gene expression technology, resulting in fertile transgenic plants producing PHA at levels of up to nine per cent of the total plant weight. PHA levels of up to 17 per cent were found in leaf tissue. Metabolix’s engineered tobacco plants produce 10 times more PHA bioplastic than previously published reports for tobacco. PHAs are a family of renewable polymeric
carbon storage materials, which have a broad range of industrial applications as performance, biodegradable bioplastics and as renewable starting materials for the production of a number of existing specialty and commodity chemicals. According to the company, PHA
Fig. 1. BASF researchers will help to design optimised biosynthesis routes.
bioplastics offer excellent performance in use and have the unique ability to biodegrade in a wide range of environments including compost, soil, wetlands, marine and anaerobic digestion facilities. As a starting material for
the production of renewable chemicals, PHAs offer exceptional, highly efficient, low cost recovery and conversion opportunities for the production of a number of specialty and commodity chemicals. By producing PHAs directly in biomass crops, Metabolix plans to further improve the cost benefits, lifecycle performance and scale potential of renewable resource-based industrial products. In a separate development, Telles - a
joint venture between Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland - has announced that sustainable thermoplastics manufacturer Tecnaro is to incorporate Mirel bioplastic into its Arboblend line of thermoplastic compounds. These are are biodegradable in certain environments, including industrial composting and anaerobic digestion systems. The companies are working together on thermoplastic formulations using Mirel F1005 and P1003 injection moulding grades. The specific terms of the supply agreement have not been disclosed. Mirel P1003 is a general purpose injection
moulding grade with high modulus. Mirel F1005 is FDA cleared for use in non-alcoholic food contact applications, including frozen food storage, microwave reheating and boiling water. Mirel is suitable for a wide range of injection-moulded food service and packaging applications, including caps and closures. Tecnaro customers are currently using
Arboblend for a variety of products in the household and sporting goods markets. The new offering will combine Mirel with other biopolymers, including lignin, starch, cellulose, organic additives, natural resins or waxes, and natural reinforcing fibres. It will then be processed with injection moulding, extrusion, deep drawing/thermoforming or pressing into moulded parts, sheets or films.
The majors are involved Total Petrochemicals, IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN) and its subsidiary Axens have announced an alliance with the objective to develop a new optimised technology for the production of bio-ethylene by dehydration of ethanol. The proprietary technology will address large-scale units and the quality of the monomers will be in line with modern derivative production processes. Based on Total Petrochemicals’ original
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