SAN DIEGO — Japanese chemicals and plastics company Toray Industries Inc. is on the verge of going commercial with partially bio-based polybutylene terephthalate.
Toray said its new PBT will use bio-based 1,4-butanediol developed by Genomatica Inc. of San Diego, Calif. Toray proved the viability in bench-scale testing that showed the polymer gave molded prototypes equal to petroleum-based PBT.
Toray will make new PBT samples available this year to establish demand for the partial biopolymer. The Tokyo firm said it will market the PBT commercially when 1,4-butanediol is readily available from a Genomatica licensee.
The other intermediate chemical for PBT is terephthalic acid, currently derived from petroleum. PBT is used in auto parts, electrical components and other end-uses where its tensile strength and elasticity combined with heat resistance make it a material of choice.
Toray said environmental pressures such as limited oil supply and oil price increases and concerns about carbon dioxide emissions make plastics based on biomaterials an attractive alternative.
Among other Genomatica's other bio-based programs is development of butadiene, an intermediate for some polymers and rubbers.