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Braskem opens new R&D center focused on renewables

By: Bob Moser

June 10, 2014

Brazil's Braskem SA, the leading thermoplastic resins producer in the Americas and the world's largest biopolymers producer, inaugurated a new research and development center on June 6 that will focus on renewable chemical products, with as much as 30 million Brazilian real ($13.3 million) in funding available for its projects this year.

Work at the new laboratory, located in Campinas, São Paulo state, will revolve around developing biotechnology and chemical processes from renewable raw materials. The center has 33 researchers on staff to develop biochemical and chemical routes and purification systems, which can be later applied on an industrial scale.

Some of the company's main projects include technologies for the production of green butadiene and propylene, metabolic engineering of microorganisms, and the continuous improvement of technology to produce ethylene from renewable sources, which is the raw material used for Braskem's green plastics.

The company has produced high, low and linear low density polyethylene from Brazil's sugarcane-based ethanol on an industrial scale since September 2010.

The new laboratory will feature a high-throughput screening robot (HTS), a modern automated robot that's able to multiply up to a thousand times the work of one researcher.

Braskem plans to invest 200 million real ($88.9 million) company-wide in research and innovation projects this year, on par with its investments from 2013.