BASF to investigate renewable resource based plastics

BASF and Metabolix, a US-based company that produces performance plastics and chemicals, today entered into a research collaboration agreement on plastics made from renewable resources.

BASF Aktiengesellschaft, Ludwigshafen, Germany, and Metabolix, Inc, Cambridge, Massachusetts, have entered into a research collaboration agreement on plastics made from renewable resources.

Under the terms of the initial one-year agreement, Metabolix will produce polyester plastics from sugar using fermentation technology and supply BASF with pilot-scale sample quantities. BASF’s polymer research division will investigate the materials technology and processing properties of the products.

The terms of the deal include extensive information sharing between the two partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.

According to BASF, polyhydroxyalkanoate polyesters (PHAs) are a versatile family of biodegradable plastics made from renewable resources. They have a very broad range of applications and may be used for the manufacture of plastic films, fibres, thermoplastic materials, and dispersions for adhesive raw materials or coatings.

‘We are delighted at the prospect of exploring new applications for our plastics in collaboration with BASF research scientists,’ said Jim Barber, President of Metabolix, Inc. ‘This arrangement marks another important milestone on our commercialisation path.’

The collaborative deal is said to give BASF the opportunity to gain experience with a technology that is still in its infancy.

‘The manufacture of plastics using microorganisms holds huge future potential,’ said BASF polymer research scientist Dr. Dietrich Scherzer, who is leading the project. ‘In the medium to long term, renewable resources are an attractive alternative to petrochemical raw materials – also from an economic point of view.’

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