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Greening of an industry: Teknor Apex partners with Cerestech for starch-blended resins

 Compounder Teknor Apex Co. (Pawtucket, RI) has signed a licensing agreement with Cerestech Inc. to utilize that company’s method for blending thermoplastic starch (TPS) with synthetic polymers or other bioplastics for compounds that reportedly retain strong performance properties. Under the agreement, Teknor Apex gains exclusive worldwide rights to manufacture and market products based on Cerestech’s patented technology and to sub-license use of the blending process.

 Compounder Teknor Apex Co. (Pawtucket, RI) has signed a licensing agreement with Cerestech Inc. to utilize that company’s method for blending thermoplastic starch (TPS) with synthetic polymers or other bioplastics for compounds that reportedly retain strong performance properties. Under the agreement, Teknor Apex gains exclusive worldwide rights to manufacture and market products based on Cerestech’s patented technology and to sub-license use of the blending process.

The technology, which is based on a patented process developed by Basil Favis, who founded Cerestech Inc. as a spinoff of the École Polytechnique de Montréal, involves preparing TPS from starch granules and then combining it as a masterbatch with bioplastics like polylactic acid (PLA) or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). Petrochemical-based polymers, such as polyethylene, can be used as well.

Teknor Apex will use the technology to produce masterbatches and ready-to-process compounds for extruded and injection molded applications in packaging, automotive, films, and other markets, with a pilot plant being installed at its world headquarters in Pawtucket, RI, and commercial production expected there in 2009.

Cerestech says its technology creates blends that retain a “substantial portion” of the base polymer’s mechanical properties at high starch loadings. The result is materials that aren’t as moisture sensitive as other starch-containing plastics for materials that are translucent, printable, and sealable, with biodegradable formulations possible.

Cerestech will compete with Cereplast (Hawthorne, CA), which markets its own line of starch-based resins, called Cereplast Compostables, which mix starches from corn, wheat, tapioca, and potato with PLA for a resin that meets biodegradability and compostability standards in Europe and the U.S. The company also offers a Hybrid line, which replaces 50% of more of a polymer’s petroleum content with renewable resources. On August 4, it completed the mechanical installation of the first production line at its new Seymour, IN production facility.That line has a nameplate production capacity of 50 million lb/yr of bioresin, and is located on a 63-acre site that Cereplast says could expand up to 500 million lb/yr of production as early as 2010.—tony.deligio@cancom.com

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