PURAC-Sulzer Develop New Polymerization Technology for PLA
PURAC and Sulzer Chemtech have jointly developed a new cost-effective
polymerization process to produce high-quality polylactic acid (PLA). The new process
relies upon proprietary and jointly developed polymerization and devolatilization
technology to efficiently produce a range of PLA products from the specialty lactides
supplied by PURAC. PURAC and Sulzer Chemtec signed a joint cooperation agreement
for the development and sharing of this technology.
Polylactic acid is a bioplastic made from biorenewable raw materials like carbohydrates.
PURAC offers the lactide monomers as polymerization feedstock and, in
cooperation with Sulzer, the polymerization technology to make PLA.
This offering will significantly reduce the process and product development time thereby
enabling faster and more reliable market entry for PLA producers. The new process
requires substantially less investment and has unmatched potential for economic scaleup
to high volumes.
The first plant to use this new technology will be built by SYNBRA in the Netherlands for
the production of BioFoam®; a foamed product made from this PLA, complementary to
their wide range of polystyrene foam products offered today. The new plant, with a
capacity of 5,000ton/year, is targeted to be operational by the end of 2009. Synbra
intends to take a leading position in Europe as a supplier of biologically degradable
polymers from renewable sources.
By the end of 2008, a demonstration and product development plant will be available
exclusively to partners of PURAC, to facilitate both product and process development to
meet various application and customer demands. The demonstration plant will be
located at Sulzer Chemtec in Winterthur, Switzerland.