Corn-based Biopolymers Make News

Recent news testifies to growing momentum for biopolymers derived from corn by bacterial fermentation: --As reported on p. 22, DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del., is developing engineering thermoplastics and TPEs derived in part from fermented corn sugar. --Mazda Motor Corp., Tokyo, and a Japanese consortium of other companies, universities, and research institutes developed a heat-resistant plastic consisting of 88% corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) and 12% petroleum-derived materials.

Recent news testifies to growing momentum for biopolymers derived from corn by bacterial fermentation: --As reported on p. 22, DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del., is developing engineering thermoplastics and TPEs derived in part from fermented corn sugar. --Mazda Motor Corp., Tokyo, and a Japanese consortium of other companies, universities, and research institutes developed a heat-resistant plastic consisting of 88% corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) and 12% petroleum-derived materials. It is said to have 25% higher heat resistance and three times the impact resistance of present biopolymers, making it attractive for auto interior uses. The consortium developed a compatibilizer for the PLA blend and nucleating agents to speed PLA crystallization for faster molding cycles and higher HDT and toughness. --Fujitsu Ltd. and Fujitsu Laboratories, Tokyo, have developed an alloy of PLA and polycarbonate that has 50% greater impact strength than PLA alone. Fujitsu will use the new material to make cell phone housings. Fujitsu’s New York office: (212) 599-9800 --Metabolix Inc., Cambridge, Mass., has hired Robert C. Findlen from GE Plastics to be v.p. of sales and marketing for new “Natural Plastics” to be made in a joint venture with Archer Daniels Midland Co. ADM is building a 100-million-lb/yr plant to produce PHA polyester from fermented cornstarch, starting in 2008. Findlen was v.p. and commercial director of LNP Americas. --Plastic Engineering Associates Licensing, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., is working with PLA producer NatureWorks LLC, Minnetonka, Minn., on foam extrusion of PLA with patented Turbo-Screws for tandem foam extrusion.

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