After reading my blog post on the launch of the world’s first manufacturing facility producing furan dicarboxylic methly ester (FDME), DuPont responded to my questions. The company recently broke ground for the biobased pilot facility in Decatur, IL, in partnership with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The companies will continue their longstanding collaboration to bring a greater variety of sustainably sourced biomaterials to the market, said DuPont.
The fructose that will be used to produce the FDME will be derived from corn starch, a specialty expertise of ADM. “We’re pleased to work with DuPont, a leader in biomaterials, to bring this innovative new portfolio of solutions to customers around the globe, and we’re excited about the future of FDME,” said Todd Werpy, ADM Chief Technology Officer.
The environmental friendliness and reduced carbon footprint that was mentioned in the DuPont/ADM press release does take into consideration the entire life cycle chain. “When we do life cycle analyses (LCAs) we take into account the environmental impact of the crops that are the source of our feedstock and compare it to the environmental impact of the (usually petro-based) materials that we are replacing (again going back to the sources of the petro feedstocks so it is ‘apples-to-apples’),” said Wendy Rosen, media person for DuPont. “This is called ‘cradle to gate’ analysis.”
Additionally, Rosen said, “a lot of the benefits of furan polymers made from FDME come into play after they leave our chemical plant gate and are derived from the fact that they are much more effective barriers to the loss of carbonation than pure PET. This means that substantially less overall plastic can be used in carbonated soft drink bottles made using furan polymers while still keeping the beverage fresh and delicious.”
Given that some biomaterials do not have the strength properties that conventional polymers do, I asked whether the PTF material developed from FDME-based polymers under development by DuPont would have wider application ranges than PLA, for example, which has a low melt temperature and thus has limitations in certain applications.
“The two polymers [PLA and PTF] have really different properties,” Rosen explained. “You are right that PTF and some other furan polymers have much higher heat deflection temperatures than PLA, with the furan polymers being fairly similar in that way to PET. But for some applications PLA is quite well-suited. We think there is plenty of room in the market for a variety of biomaterials.”
PlasticsToday appreciates the response and the input from DuPont.