NatureWorks, Calysta to work jointly to develop bioplastics directly from methane

EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

Published: March 27, 2014 11:03 am ET
Updated: March 27, 2014 11:06 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Polylactic Acid, Materials Suppliers
Companies & Associations NatureWorks LLC

U.S.-based Calysta Energy Inc. and NatureWorks LLC have announced research collaboration looking at the transformation of methane into the lactic acid building blocks needed to produce bioplastics.

The multi-year R&D project aims to develop a practical, world-scale production process for fermenting methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into lactic acid, the building block for polylactic acid, lactide intermediates and polymers made from renewable materials. If the collaboration is successful, the production cost of NatureWorks’ Ingeo PLA bioplastic would be substantially reduced.

Methane is generated by the natural decomposition of plant materials and is a component of natural gas. Methane is also generated from post-consumer organic waste, waste-water treatment, landfill decomposition and anaerobic digestion. If successful, the technology could directly access carbon from any of these sources. Determining the feasibility of methane as a commercially viable feedstock for lactic acid may take up to five years, according to Minnetonka, Minn.-based NatureWorks.

“If proven through this R&D collaboration, the new technology could be revolutionary … the direct conversion of methane will greatly simplify the number of steps and operations needed to convert carbon into performance consumer products,” said Marc Verbruggen, president and CEO of NatureWorks. “This could structurally lower the cost of producing Ingeo.”

Currently, Ingeo relies on carbon from feedstocks such as corn and cane sugar.

In parallel with the collaboration, NatureWorks is continuing to investigate “second generation” cellulosic sources of carbon. In southeast Asia, opportunities exist for harvesting cellulosic sugars from bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane processing.

The R&D collaboration with Calysta Energy of Menlo Park, Calif., allows NatureWorks to investigate feedstock diversification and a structurally simplified, lower-cost Ingeo production platform. Calysta Energy is developing its BioGTC (biological gas-to-chemicals) platform for biological conversion of methane to high value chemicals. For NatureWorks, methane could be an additional feedstock several generations removed from simple plant sugars.

Alan Shaw, CEO of Calysta Energy, said: “Calysta’s proprietary technology enables a novel route from a significant greenhouse gas to high-value industrial chemicals such as lactic acid. This approach demonstrates the power of biology compared to chemical transformation. Specific products, such as lactic acid, would be extremely difficult to make economically from methane using traditional catalysts.”

The companies will share commercialization rights for select products developed under the agreement.


Comments

NatureWorks, Calysta to work jointly to develop bioplastics directly from methane

EUROPEAN PLASTICS NEWS

Published: March 27, 2014 11:03 am ET
Updated: March 27, 2014 11:06 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

The milk man will be toting plastic bottles to UK homes in the future

September 22, 2014 11:17 am ET

The United Kingdom's largest dairy company is about to replace its final glass bottles with plastic.    More

Image

Poland's Boryszew to work with Mitsui on lightweight auto parts

September 22, 2014 10:12 am ET

European plastics car parts maker Boryszew Group has signed a letter of intent to work with the Japanese investment and trading conglomerate Mitsui & ...    More

Image

Dunkin' Donuts looking at PP to replace foam cups

September 19, 2014 3:22 pm ET

Dunkin' Donuts is testing a new polypropylene coffee cup that the company believes could help boost recycling.    More

Image

Foster building medical polymers plant

September 19, 2014 1:39 pm ET

Foster Delivery Science is investing $8 million in a new plant in Putnam, Conn., for production of medical polymer blends, as well as rods, film or...    More

Image

BP to restart damaged PTA unit in limited capacity by November

September 19, 2014 10:27 am ET

British Petroleum plc may restart its fire-damaged purified terephthalic acid (PTA) feedstock unit in South Carolina in late October or early November...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events