Bio-based resin manufacturer DaniMer Scientific LLC has begun production of what it says are the first hot-melt adhesives made from renewable resources. The company says commercial-level volumes of plant-based adhesives will be available in October.
“The renewable hot-melt adhesives are the first in the world,” said President S. Blake Lindsey at the Bioplastek 2011 conference, held June 27-29 in New York. “There are folks that have been in development of renewable hot-melt adhesives, but none that have taken it to market as a commercial product.”
He said DaniMer and its sister company Meredian Inc. are retrofitting an existing plant in Bainbridge, Ga. — where both firms are located — for a pilot plant that will produce 30 million pounds per year of polyhydroxyalkanoate bio-based resins.
That PHA pilot plant will be up and running by the first of next year, Lindsey said. He added that Meridian plans to start construction of a 200 million-pound-per-year PHA plant at the Bainbridge site in the fourth quarter of 2012, with that facility up and running a year after that.
Lindsey said Meredian's PHA resins have a target price of $1 per pound, compared to current PHA resins that cost about $2.50.
“That is very unusual for PHA,” Lindsey said in an interview. “But we believe we can achieve that because we focused on production efficiencies. We wanted a cost-effective biopolymer that would not be a premium price.”
He said the company was targeting five areas for its PHA resins: flexible films, coatings, fiber applications, traditional injection molded and thermoformed packaging and as a replacement for polystyrene foam.
“These resins can overcome the physical and mechanical limitations of other bio-based resins and will have a broader range of physical and mechanical properties without costly downstream manipulation or process changes,” Lindsey said.
He projects that Meredian will have PHA production capacity of 630 million pounds in 2016.
“Our plan is to build three 200 million-pound plants. We are working with our strategic partners. They want resins made from renewable resources that are truly biodegradable and will not be harmful to soil or water — even cold marine water.”
The PHA resins will be made using a technology Meredian acquired from Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co. in 2007 that uses plant-based fatty acids, not sugars, to create PHA through fermentation.
The renewable hot-melt adhesives currently are being made in small quantities in the company's polymer development center, with additional quantities produced for DaniMer by a toll compounder.
“We are building a commercial plant in Bainbridge that will be operational by the end of the year,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey said the hot-melt adhesives are “cost-neutral and may sometimes offer a cost advantage” compared to petroleum-based adhesives.
They are designed to work without equipment modification in most existing hot-melt applications, including handguns and automatic adhesive applicators.
“We did not want to ask potential customers to invest in new equipment to use new materials,” Lindsey said. “There is no equipment modification required.”
The adhesives — renewable, recyclable and repulpable — have been in development for two years and are made from proprietary Seluma condensation technology.
The first renewable hot-melt adhesives are for case- and carton-sealing applications, he said. But the company is working on extensions of that product line and its renewable hot-melt adhesives also could be used for flexible packaging and pressure-sensitive adhesives, Lindsey said.