What was the star attraction at the recent K 2007 show in Dusseldorf? There are some who might say it was the naked woman being spray painted in Hall 4. But for those who focused on technology, the most talked-about theme at the show was biopolymers and plastics made from renewable resources instead of petrochemicals.
Several companies introduced bioresins made from plant oils, sugars, or starches. The most startling was polyethylene made entirely from cane sugar by Braskem of Brazil. DuPont talked about its pending launches of Sorona PTT polyester and Hytrel RS TPEs, both made from propanediol derived from fermented cornstarch. Arkema announced Pebax Rnew TPEs made up to 90% from castor oil, as well as a copolyamide billed as the first 100% bio-based hot-melt adhesive. Arkema also makes nylon 11 entirely from castor oil. Merquinsa of Spain brought out the first TPUs made from renewable natural sources. Bayer MaterialScience showed off a refrigerator whose urethane foam insulation is made with Baytherm NOP natural-oil polyols (see p. 64). Mitsui of Japan also talked about new bio-based PUR materials. Radici Group of Italy will begin production next year of nylon 610, made in part from castor oil. BASF “reintroduced” its nylon 610 in response to a surge of interest from the auto industry. Toray showed off new Ecodear nano-alloys of polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer and conventional thermoplastics for making laptop cases and cellphones. And the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany exhibited a biocomposite of PLA with natural fibers like hemp or flax. Others showing biopolymers included Novamont, Cereplast, and Biotech of Germany.
Additive makers also got into the act, with Arkema launching Biostrength impact modifiers and processing aids for PLA and Clariant introducing Renol-natur all-natural color masterbatches for biopolymers. Clariant also talked about its CESA-extend chain extenders for modifying PLA, and Hydrocerol blowing agents for foaming PLA. Other firms presenting additives for biopolymers included DuPont and PolyOne.