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Bio-based plastic precursor project gains support

Plastics and chemicals supplier BASF plans to intensify its collaboration with CSM with the likelihood of a joint venture between the two. The venture will become the leading supplier in the succinic acid market. CSM is a world leader in supply of bakery supplies as well as owner of Purac, a leader in the supply of lactic acid.

BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) and CSM (Diemen, Netherlands) together have been conducting research on bio-based succinic acid since 2009. Now the two have begun negotiations to form a joint venture for the production of the chemical. Demand for succinic acid is anticipated to grow strongly in the next years as it is a key precursor material for some bioplastics as well as solvents, polyurethanes and plasticizers.

Succinic acid can be purified to produce adipic acid, primarily used as monomer for the production of nylon by a polycondensation reaction with hexamethylene diamine that results in nylon 6,6. It can also be used as a monomer for production of polyurethane, and its esters can be used as plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride. Lactic acid is the key ingredient in polylactic acd (PLA), one of the mostwidely used bioplastics. Development of biobased succinic acid, lactic acid and other such materials is on the rise as many industry experts predict the high-volume bioplastics of the near future will be ones based not on plant starch, but rather the slate of current plastics with their precursors derived from renewable raw materials.

Commented Andreas Kreimeyer, research executive director of BASF, on the potential new JV, "Until now our partnership has been very successful, and moving towards a joint venture will strengthen our goal to become the leading supplier in the succinic acid market."

"We aim to be the first commercial producer in the market with a 25,000 tons' capacity fermentation production plant at the Purac site near Barcelona, Spain, with the intention to start up by 2013 at the latest," added Gerard Hoetmer, CEO of CSM. "In addition, we are already planning a world-scale plant with a capacity of 50,000 tons to account for the expected demand growth. This partnership has enormous potential as it leverages the combined competencies of two leading companies in their fields."

TAGS: Materials
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