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Laurel BioComposite boosting capacity

By: Frank Esposito

March 13, 2012

LAUREL, NEB. (March 13, 12:30 p.m. ET) — Bioplastics maker Laurel BioComposite LLC has bought its first commercial-scale extrusion line, which it hopes to have up and running in time for next month’s NPE2012 show in Orlando, Fla.

The Entek twin-screw extrusion line has annual capacity of 8 million pounds, startup manager Lou Luedtke said in a March 13 phone interview. The line will be installed at Laurel’s 15,000 square-foot plant in Laurel, Neb., where the firm already operates a pilot line.

Laurel spent almost $500,000 on the line, which will allow the firm to add two more production jobs. The line will be used to make Laurel’s Bio-Res-brand corn-based resin, which is 80 percent bio-based and can be blended with polyethylene, polypropylene or other plastics.

Laurel has been in contact with 90 potential customers, Luedtke said, 15 of which are testing the Bio-Res material.

“Customers want to know how much [Bio-Res] we can produce,” he added. “A lot of them have their own bio-based departments. There’s a lot more interest in sustainability.”

Luedtke said the firm hopes to be in commercial production during NPE2012, so that it can tell showgoers that their material is immediately available.

The production plant eventually could have an annual capacity of 48 million pounds. Bio-Res is sold as a masterbatch concentrate and can be used in numerous applications in the automotive, lawn and garden and agriculture markets, officials said. They added that injection molded parts made with Bio-Res show a 10 percent increase in stiffness and tensile modulus.

Laurel was founded in 2007 and is privately owned by almost 100 investors.