C&EN logo The Newsmagazine of the Chemical World
Home Current Issue ChemJobs Join ACS
Latest News
Government & Policy
Careers and Employment
ACS News
How to log in
Contact Us
Site Map
About C&EN
About the Magazine
How to Subscribe
How to Advertise

Latest News RSS Feed

latest news RSS feedWhat is this?

Join ACS
Join ACS
  Latest News  
  March 28,  2005
Volume 83, Number 13
p. 9


  Two Pacts May Help Spur Biomass Plastics  


BP and Cambridge, Mass.-based Metabolix are collaborating on a new route to polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), while the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are taking steps to commercialize a corn-based plastics additive.

BP, including its new Innovene olefins and derivatives subsidiary, and Metabolix have signed a joint-development program for renewable plastics. BP will contribute full-time staff to Metabolix for two years, and the companies will explore together any commercial options for the technology.

BP and Metabolix will focus on a switchgrass-based route to PHA. Oliver Peoples, chief scientific officer at Metabolix, says some bacteria naturally produce PHA, unlike other biobased plastics such as polylactic acid. The firm hopes that PHA-producing genes from the microorganisms can be introduced into switchgrass to yield viable quantities of the polymer.

Peoples adds that PHA may enhance the value of the switchgrass, enabling it to become a commercial biomass fuel. Metabolix hopes to prove the commercial viability of the process in five years.

Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland have been planning a 50,000-metric-ton-per-year PHA plant based on a fermentation route to the polymer. Peoples says a joint-development program with BASF is being phased out.

Separately, Battelle, which operates PNNL, is licensing its technology for converting sorbitol to isosorbide to the Iowa Corn Promotion Board, which intends to sublicense the process to potential isosorbide manufacturers. Isosorbide, which is also a heart disease drug, can be used as an additive that makes plastics stronger and more rigid.

  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005

E-mail this article
to a friend
Print this article
E-mail the editor