An alliance between compounding leader PolyOne Corp. and green chemistry supplier Segetis Inc. could yield a bio-based plasticizer by the end of next year.
Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne and Segetis, of Golden Valley, Minn., announced the partnership in early April. The firms will work together to incorporate Segetis' proprietary levulinic ketal technology in plasticizers that can be used in PolyOne materials or sold to other suppliers.
Levulinic ketals are formed by combining levulinic acid derived from biomass currently from corn cobs with one of a variety of bio-based polyalcohols. Segetis also is using the technology to make a line of solvents, as well as natural polyols that can be used in polyurethane systems, according to Snehal Desai, business vice president for Segetis.
Segetis was formed in 2007 and opened a 250,000-pound-capacity semi-works plant in Golden Valley last year. The firm employs 30 and was started by Sergey Selifonov, a fragrances industry veteran who saw potential in bio-based products.
Plasticizers made by the PolyOne-Segetis partnership could be used in a range of bio-based or petroleum-based resins, including PVC, where they could replace phthalates. Alleged health risks surrounding phthalates have led manufacturers to seek out non-phthalate materials in recent years.
Together, [PolyOne and Segetis] will develop a unique performance profile for bio-based plasticizers that will enable us to create compounds with properties that are unobtainable today, PolyOne biomaterials marketing director Marcel Dartee said in a recent news release.
For Segetis, its first commercial product should be a solvent available in late 2010 or early 2011, Desai said in an April 29 phone interview. The PolyOne/Segetis bio-plasticizer should arrive by the end of 2011, with a Segetis-designed natural polyol hitting the market by the end of 2011 as well.
Segetis is majority-owned by investment firm Khosla Ventures of Menlo Park, Calif.
DSM Venturing a unit of Dutch plastics and specialty chemicals maker DSM NV also is an investor in the firm. Earlier this year, Segetis was named a finalist in a Clean Technology Business Forum & Competition sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers' Plastics Environmental Division.
PolyOne had previously announced joint development efforts with agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland to produce bioplasticizers for use in PVC-related markets.
Desai is familiar with the biomaterials market, having spent five years at bioplastics supplier NatureWorks LLC of Minnetonka, Minn., before joining Segetis in 2008.
What's happening [with biomaterials] is that we're seeing customers who are more willing to experiment, he said. There are more unmet needs that they're willing to speak about.
There's a new level of awareness on sustainability issues in general. People are looking at these products and trying to find ways they can use them.
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