Environmentally benign building blocks for biobased polymers

Environmentally benign building blocks for biobased polymers

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research develops clean and safe technologies for the production of biobased chemicals and plastics. By coming up with fully-fledged alternatives to petrochemicals, we are making a meaningful contribution to lower CO2 emissions and a reduced environmental impact. This provides opportunities for the entire value chain, from raw material producers and chemical companies to retailers and brand owners.

About 10 to 15% of crude oil is used for the production of polymers for plastics, resulting in substantial CO2 emissions. Moreover, some eight million tonnes of plastic disappears into our oceans annually after use. Society needs new chemical building blocks and polymers from biomass and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is among the world’s frontrunners in this area.

Our technology enables the chemical industry to switch to sustainable chemicals and plastics and significantly reduce its ecological footprint. Agrofood companies and the forestry sector are given new ways to valorise non-edible biomass residues. And retailers and brand owners have opportunities to better respond to the needs of end users, for example with sustainable biobased plastic products that are circular by design.

From raw material to end product

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has enormous experience with the development of biobased building blocks for both thermoplastic (flexible) and thermoset (hard) polymers. We cover the entire chain, from raw material to end product. Depending on the desired functional properties, we use various raw materials from biomass, such as carbohydrates, vegetable oils and lignin.

Along new process routes, including tools for separation and purification, we can create many valuable building blocks. Examples are isosorbide, isoidide, furandicarboxylic acid, biobutanol and various biobased acids like formic acid, lactic acid and hydroxy fatty acids and aromatics like (methyl)phthalic acid. These building blocks are used for the synthesis and evaluation of new resins, coatings, adhesives and thermoplastic materials. They often give better functional properties than their fossil equivalents, including in terms of gas barriers, UV stability, fire resistance and impact resistance.

Technological breakthroughs

In partnership with industry we ensure technological breakthroughs. For instance,  we have developed a unique process for the production of lactic acid together with one of the world's largest petrochemical companies. This makes it possible to manufacture end products with precisely desired properties. Another example is Pulp2Value, a European research project that develops new value chains for the sugar beet industry. As in other projects, this has resulted in the production of various new building blocks as a basis for biopolymers. Examples are isoidide as a basis for high-performance polyesters, and galactaric acid as a platform building block for bioplastics, surfactants and personal care products.

Making transformation possible

Our technology is making possible a major transition to clean and safe chemicals and plastics. We would be pleased to explore together the options for your company. Contact us for an exploratory conversation about the many available opportunities.

Want to know more?

Are you interested and do you want to know more? Contact us for a no-obligation conversation.