New biosuccinic plants will help make PVC greener

The argument that PVC is getting greener and belongs in healthcare applications is getting a boost from the rapid development of potential new bioplasticizers.

In one of  the biggest developments, BioAmber and Mitsubishi Chemicals are teaming up to build a world-scale biosuccinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ontario next year.

In a form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Nov. 10, BioAmber estimates the  addressable market for plasticizers made from biosuccinic acid at more than $1 billion.

Plasticizers are organic esters that are primarily used to make flexible PVC. Bio-succinic acid esters serve as replacements for certain of the major phthalate-based plasticizers, which account for a significant majority of the worldwide demand.

"There is increasing demand for renewable, phthalate-free plasticizers, particularly in sensitive applications such as children's toys and childcare articles," the company noted in its Form S-1.

Cost competitive

BioAmber believes it can produce bio-succinic acid that is cost-competitive with oil priced as low as $35 per barrel and an assumed corn price of $6.50 per bushel. The BioAmber process requires less sugar than most other renewable products because 25% of the carbon in its biosuccinic acid originates from carbon dioxide.

Mitsubishi is partnering with BioAmber to build three world-scale biosuccinic acid plants. Output from the plants will also be used to produce PBS-type plastics, de-icing solutions and precursors for polyurethane, elastomers, and polyesters.

BioAmber recently entered into an agreement with Lanxess to develop a portfolio of bio-succinic-based phthalate-free plasticizers that can exceed the performance of general purpose plasticizers at competitive prices.

The company  also recently entered into a joint development agreement with Solvay, a leading producer of PVC, to tailor certain bio-succinic acid-based plasticizers to the needs of specific users of PVC.

In September, Eastman Chemical acquired Brazilian plasticizer manufacturer Scandiflex do Brasil S.A. Indústrias Químicasas  as part of its effort to boost sales of non-phthalate plasticizer products. A non-phthalate plasticizer sold by the company has more than 30 years of use in sensitive applications such as medical devices, food contact, toys and childcare articles.

In a separate move, BASF announced plans to significantly increase its capacity to produce non-phthalate plasticizers.

The developments augment points by the Vinyl Institute that groups such as the American Public Health Association are using outdated information in their resolutions citing health problems with PVC.





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