Roger Avakian sees emerging markets playing a bigger role in future developments of increasingly popular bio-based polymers and other select, high-end engineering resins.
For now, the vice president of scientific development for compounder PolyOne Corp. says countries such as China and Brazil already are proving to be a good source for quality bioresins that often are in short supply in the U.S. and elsewhere.
``The availability of a lot of these materials like [polyhydroxyalkanoates] and [polyhydroxybutyrate valerate] are limited, and, luckily, particularly the latter ... is available from China,'' he said June 19 in an interview after his presentation at the Townsend Emerging Markets for the Plastics Industry conference in Houston. PHBV is a PHB copolymer that is tougher and less stiff than plain PHB. PHB and PHBV are the two most common types from the family of biopolymers known as PHAs.
Avakian also noted that Brazil is a source for soy-based bioresins such as thermoset polyurethanes and polytrimethylene terephthalates, as well as for corn-based biopolymers.
The PolyOne official said PHA resins have been very difficult to come by from U.S. sources and he described the Chinese PHBV resins as generally being of very good quality. One Chinese company, in particular, is getting aggressive about marketing its biopolymers in North America. Tianan Biologic Material Co. Ltd. in Ningbo is producing only modest quantities but plans to expand output significantly, and it recently hired a well-known bioresin executive in the United States.
Meanwhile, Avakian also noted India is producing high-end thermoplastics such as polysulfone and polyetheretherketone resins on par with Western sources. He expects such emerging markets, as well as Russia and some of the Middle Eastern countries, only to get more active in the technical development of the materials.
As previously reported, Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne recently opened a new color masterbatch plant in Poland. It also added capacity at its three Chinese compounding plants, and introduced in China new bio-based additives and colorants for use in biodegradable polymers such polylactic acid and PHBV copolymer.