May 8, 2012

Siemens develop ABS plastic alternative

 Researchers at technology company Siemens have developed an alternative material to polystyrene-based acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plastic made from renewable-based polymers and carbon dioxide.
The new material -- a result of a three-year project funded by the German Research Ministry and in collaboration with BASF, Munich Techical University and the University of Hamburg scientists -- is a mixture of polyhdroxybutyrate (PHB) bioplastic and carbon dioxide-based polypropylene carbonate (PPC) (containing 43% by weight CO2) supplied by BASF.
According to the press release, the new composite polymer has more than 70% renewable-based content. Bosch-Siemens-Hausgeräte (BSH) demonstrated its performance by using the material to make a vacuum cleaner cover under series-production conditions. In cooperation with BSH and BASF, the Siemens researchers now want to examine whether they can replace other types of plastic used by BSH with CO2-based composite materials.
I think this is the first time that the blog posted a story about an alternative to ABS polymer.  The blog previously reported developments in PPC such as those by Novomer and Cardia Bioplastics.
Novomer recently partnered with US starch company Penford to develop and commercialize packaging materials made from starch-PPC composites, while Cardia Bioplastics have also developed a blend of  PPC and starch plastics used for carrier bags under the trade name CO2S.
Korea-based firm SK Energy SK Innovation is also working on PPC under the trade name Green Pol. The company begun to produce PPC in a continuous process type pilot plant since late 2008 and according to the company's recent investor report, SK Energy SK Innovation is planning to commercialize their Green Pol plastic around 2013-2014.
Plant construction, commercial testing and market development for its Green Pol is already ongoing, according to SK Energy SK Innovation. It's PPC, by the way, is a copolymerization of propylene oxide (56% by weight) and carbon dioxide (44% by weight) using a proprietary highly active catalyst based on Co-Salen.
By the way, SK Energy's chemical business SK Chemicals is already commercializing bioplastics under the brand name EcoPlan (resins made from PLA) and EcoZen - a proprietary polymer made with combined glycol modified polyethylene terephthalate (dubbed PETG under the brand SkyGreen) and a biobased monomer (I tried to do some research on what the biobased monomer is but failed..maybe PLA?).
Correction 5/10/12: SK Innovation has emailed the blog about certain information as follows:
1. It is SK Innovation, not SK Energy, who are working on PPC business. -- There was a company re-organization and change in early 2011.
2. SK Chemical is another independent company who is working on Ecozen.It is not a chemical business unit under SK Innovation or SK Energy although all of them belong to SK Group.
I found this cute video of SK Chemicals' bio-copolyester EcoZen.
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