18 Juni 2015

Biodegradable plastics from biodiesel production by-products

One step closer: Bio-on announced grant licenses for its new technology to produce high-performing PHAs biopolymers

Bologna, 16 June 2015 – Bio-on S.p.A., the leader in eco-sustainable chemical technologies, announces its completion of another phase in the development of the technology for making PHAs from glycerol and today stands ready to grant licenses for this new technology to realise the first PHAs bioplastic production plants using biodiesel by-products.

Glycerol, also known as crude glycerol, is a waste product of biodiesel production and is present in large quantities around the world. Europe produces approximately 4 million tons per year – a figure that is constantly increasing. Its use as crude glycerol is problematic and over-production has caused its value to slump. In recent years, Bio-on has developed a technology for using crude glycerol in the production of high-performing PHAs biopolymers (described at IPO). This interesting by-product is added to others developed by Bio-on obtained from sugar beet, sugar cane and potatoes.

Bio-on technology now enables production facilities producing from 2,000 tons/year to 10,000 tons/year of PHAs to be realised. PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are bioplastics that can replace a number of traditional plastics currently made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons. PHAs guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties with the advantage of being completely naturally biodegradable.

“It is a great scientific and engineering achievement in the bioplastics world,” explains Bio-on S.p.A. Chairman Marco Astorri, “because it shows that it is possible to transform a new waste product such as glycerol into a raw material, expanding concepts such as biodegradability and eco-sustainability with innovative, advanced plastics. It’s an important step in the affirmation of PHA in the latest-generation plastics market. The intuition of Bio-on, always looking for new waste materials to develop high-performing biopolymers, adds a new “ingredient” to the construction of the Italian green chemical industry,” says Astorri, “and it enables crude glycerol to be processed directly, without the need for refinement, in order to make high-performing PHAs biopolymers”.
Current crude glycerol production represents a by-product equal to 10% of biodiesel production from transesterification processes.

Source: Bio-on, press release, 2015-06-16.

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