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Non-oil Additives, Ingredients and Polymers: The Breakthrough Starch, Fibres from Scraps, Bioplasticizers, Natural Protective Agents

SpecialChem / Aug 24, 2009

Petroleum drying up will lead to an energy crisis needing to find new sources for the plastics industry. Alternatives include the replacement of petroleum by coal, the use of minerals, the exploitation of biomass and CO2, and the recycling.
Coals can be converted into hydrocarbons, a route previously used by Germany and newly developed to produce 500,000 tonnes of polypropylene per year. Pitch fibres are high performing and coal tar, rich in chemicals, leads to multiple ingredients.
Mineral fillers are used as reinforcements, processing aids, whiteners, colorants, UV stoppers, and other applications. Nanofillers and in-situ prepared fillers are developing.
The renewable biomass can be processed according to more or less complex treatments to transform it in a source of non-oil polymers, chemical blocks and additives. Numerous examples are physical treatments (Milling, spinning, crystallization, distillation, washing etc), chemical treatments (chemolysis, hydrolysis, oxidation etc.), thermolysis (cracking, hydrocracking, pyrolysis...), conventional polymerization of natural monomers and other building blocks, microbial ways (fermentation...), Genetic engineering: Bioplastics Growing in Plant Factories.
Starch derivatives and PLA represent the main industrial breakthrough among bioplastics but other tracks are promising such as PHA, PHB and PLA produced via microbial routes. Other ways look helpful concerning the extraction of green chemical blocks replacing those based on petroleum. The alcohol routes derived from fermentation of sugars can lead to ethanol and ethane and by conventional polymerization to green polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and PVC. Propanediol leads to green copolyester thermoplastic elastomers (Hytrel). Polyols can lead to polyurethane foams, thermoplastic polyurethanes, polyurethane elastomers, unsaturated polyesters (UP).
Non-oil natural additives can also be used as rheology modifiers, plasticizers, antioxidants etc. New ways concern the use of wastes and CO2 as raw materials and the preparation of high-performing fibres.
Bioplastics can have special properties needing to have a new look combining all the requirements and the necessity to find new non-oil raw material sources.

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