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

2014 leaves some resin firms in the black while others struggle

January 23, 2015 2:37 pm ET

On the financial side, 2014 was good for Hexcel Corp., so-so for Celanese Corp. and it could have been better for Omnova Solutions.    More

Image

Clariant's ColorForward predicts future consumer trends

January 23, 2015 1:33 pm ET

Clariant International Ltd. is marking a decade of color forecasting with the 10th edition of its ColorForward program.    More

Image

The future for PolyOne is colorful

January 23, 2015 1:28 pm ET

PolyOne Corp. is writing four color stories for 2016.    More

Image

Mexico's Polymer Solutions looks to grow, expand offerings with name change

January 23, 2015 12:03 pm ET

British biodegradable additives developer Symphony Environmental Technologies plc's Mexico distributor has changed its name from Plásticos...    More

Image

Recycling Partnership coalition kicks off its initial curbside project

January 22, 2015 3:51 pm ET

The Recycling Partnership's inaugural effort to boost curbside recycling around the country kicked off this week in Columbia, S.C.    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

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

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events