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Lanxess, BioAmber team for bio-based plasticizers

It has been a busy year for news of new non-phthalate plasticizer supply. The latest announcement comes from plastics and chemicals supplier Lanxess, which is working with BioAmber to develop plasticizers from bio-based succinic acid. The goal is to market the plasticizers as a sustainable alternative to phthalate-containing formulations.

It has been a busy year for news of new non-phthalate plasticizer supply. The latest announcement comes from plastics and chemicals supplier Lanxess, which is working with BioAmber to develop plasticizers from bio-based succinic acid. The goal is to market the plasticizers as a sustainable alternative to phthalate-containing formulations. Lanxess' move with BioAmber comes on the heels of acquisitions by Eastman Chemical to boost its own presence in the bio-based plasticizer field, as well as investments by BASF in the same.

As we have written in other articles, BioAmber (Minneapolis, MN) is a leader in development and supply of succinic acid derived from renewable resources. BioAmber already has announced partnerships with Mitsubishi Chemical to find a lower cost bioderived succinic acid that will in turn reduce the price of Mitsubishi's patented polybutylene succinate (PBS) resin, a renewable biodegradable polymer. It also has signed a licensing agreement with Celexion LLC for technology relating to production of nylon component adipic acid and other chemical intermediates.

Phthalates have been under increasing regulatory scrutiny for more than a decade. The use of some phthalates has been restricted in the European Union in children's toys since 1999. In 2008, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act limited the amount of certain phthalates that could be present in children's toys and child-care articles. In January 2010, Australia's Consumer Affairs minister banned products containing more than 1% DEHP. Lanxess estimates the global market for phthalate-free plasticizers is currently worth about $1.79 billion, with annual growth rates of around 7%.

Lanxess' goal is to be producing phthalate-free plasticizers starting next year. "Our cooperation with BioAmber is a unique opportunity to launch a new generation of plasticizers on the market that meet all legal regulations and can also score in terms of environmental aspects and sustainability," said Jorge Nogueira, head of Lanxess' Functional Chemicals business unit that manufactures phthalate-free plasticizers.
 
Lanxess already makes and markets phthalate-free plasticizers under the brand names Mesamoll, Adimoll, Ultramoll and Unimoll, but these are not based on renewable resources. Through the acquisition of the Unitex Chemical Corp. (Greensboro, NC) it gained access to an additional capacity of 50,000 tonnes/yr, plus a portfolio of phthalate-free plasticizers such as benzoates, citrates and trimellitates.
 
BioAmber manufactures bio-based succinic acid in Pomacle, France, at a plant with 3000 tonnes of capacity per year. It will add a further 17,000 tonnes of capacity from 2013 with a new facility to be built in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, at the Lanxess site there.
 

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