DuPont Plans for Large-Scale Conversion to Biobased Polymers

WEB EXCLUSIVE: DuPont Performance Polymers believes that itcan replace more than half of its current engineering plastics portfolio with biobased versions within the next 15 years.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: In recent years, DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del., has been in the vanguard of companies launching new resins with biobased, renewable content. Examples are DuPont’s Sorona PTT polyester, Zytel RS nylons 610 and 1010, and Hytrel RS copolyester TPE. In a recent interview, Lewis E. Manring, v.p. of  technology for DuPont Performance Polymers, made it clear that this is only a beginning. He indicated that a major R&D campaign is under way at DuPont, not all of which has been publicized. He said, “We believe that we can replace more than half of our current plastics portfolio with biobased versions within the next 15 years.”

Manring emphasized substitutions for “our current plastics portfolio” because the company’s goal is to offer renewable-content resins that are drop-in replacements for existing products. This would save customers the time and expense of requalification for automotive, electronic, and other applications—problems facing introduction of entirely new biobased polymers. He indicated that this has been one factor that has slowed acceptance of Sorona PTT.

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Manring stated unequivocally that “renewable polymers have to be less expensive than equivalent petro-based resins to interest OEMs. They certainly will not pay more for renewables, at least not in the near future.” He believes this economic imperative has restrained competitors’ appetite for developing biobased resins, but DuPont fully intends to satisfy that requirement.

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