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Green Matter: Polyamide in shades of green – DSM, Ravago, Rennovia

It's not the first time Green Matter has taken a look at polyamide, but this time it's not only about castor oil-sourced PA11 or PA 410. October has opened with two news items, one from DSM and Ravago, the other from Rennovia, a chemical process technology development company located in California, about PA 6 and PA 6,6.

Karen Laird

October 3, 2013

3 Min Read
Green Matter: Polyamide in shades of green – DSM, Ravago, Rennovia

DSM, headquartered in the Netherlands, has announced that it has expanded its partnership with the Belgian Ravago Group, a leading distributor active in the resale, compounding and recycling of plastic and elastomeric raw materials. The two companies have combined DSM's expertise in polyamide 6 with Ravago's recycling know-how to develop a portfolio of glass reinforced recycled PA6 compounds. The materials will be offered by DSM directly and distributed by Ravago Group member Resinex,

"This new development gives us the opportunity to build on our long-standing partnership with DSM while profiting from our many years of experience in working with recycled materials," says Alessio Patanè, Product Manager Engineering Plastics at Ravago. The company has established partnerships of this kind with various leading materials suppliers in the market.

The partnership fits perfectly with DSM's commitment to sustainability - "our fundamental business driver", says the company - whose percentage of ECO+ products currently in the pipeline now stands at 94%. Expanding the portfolio with recycled PA compounds will "enable us to offer new solutions to some of the key industries that we have been serving for many years," according to DSM's Danilo Fioravante, Global Business Director Akulon.

The new, recycled PA6 grades, which are now available, contain more than 50% post-consumer resin (from well-identified and dependable sources) and are being marketed under DSM's Akulon brand. DSM is supplying grades with 30% and 35% glass fiber reinforcement targeted at automotive under-the-hood applications such as air-intake manifolds and engine covers, and furniture applications, including structural parts in office chairs.

And just a quick aside about DSM's renewably sourced PA 410: the company also announced that it has signed a partnership agreement with PlastiComp Inc. (Winona, MN) to develop new innovative bio-based long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) composite materials, based on its EcoPaXX polyamide 410. The new composites-which include compounds reinforced with glass fiber as well as carbon fiber-have a much improved Life Cycle Analysis score, thanks to the carbon neutral cradle-to-gate footprint of the EcoPaXX polymer. While the principal focus of the partnership is on automotive applications, other metal-replacement applications are obviously also envisaged. Grades can be developed that, for example, leverage material characteristics such as electro-magnetic interference (EMI) shielding for electronics, and radiolucency in x-ray applications.

Finally, then, an announcement from Rennovia, which claims to have produced and shipped to a prospective partner, samples of what it believes to be the world's first 100% bio-based nylon-6,6 polymer. Rennovia had previously announced the production of bio-based adipic acid (AA) and bio-based hexamethylenediamine (HMD) from sugars using its proprietary chemical catalytic process technology. Both are key nylon ingredients.

Rennovia's process technology offers significant production cost savings and a far smaller carbon footprint compared to fossil fuel based processes. According to Robert Wedinger, president and CEO of Rennovia, production costs for Rennovia's bio-based AA and HMD are projected to be 20-25% below that of conventional petroleum-based AA and HMD, with a significantly lower per-pound capital cost. Additional projected benefits include an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to conventional petroleum-derived AA, and a 50% reduction in GHG emissions compared to conventional petroleum-derived HMD.

Rennovia's bio-based AA and HMD products together enable for the first time production of 100% bio-based nylon-6,6, validating, says Wedinger, "Rennovia's unique ability to create technological breakthroughs in the production of bio-based chemicals and materials, with projected significant cost advantages and environmental benefits vs. products produced from petroleum-based feedstocks."

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