Specialty and fine chemicals

Specialty chemicals are chemicals with a high added value that can be added to a number of products (such as plastics, coatings, adhesives and inks, cosmetics and cleaning products) in relatively small amounts to enhance the performance of these products. When specialty chemicals are used for the food or pharmaceutical industry they are usually called fine chemicals. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has many years of experience in developing and testing biobased specialty and fine chemicals.

Polymer additives and other specialty chemicals

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has broad experience in developing and testing polymer additives; specialty chemicals based on renewable  feed stocks (biomass). We develop and test these additives for conventional petrochemical polymers such as polyvinylchloride (PVC), and for biobased polymers and biopolymers such as polylactic acid (PLA), starch and cellulose. Examples of biobased polymer additives are plasticisers, heat and UV stabilisers, impact modifiers, chain extenders, and cross-linkers and drying agents for coatings. Other specialty chemicals we develop include products of are active in aqueous systems such as surface active substances, dispersants, latexes and (anti)coagulants. In the development of specialty chemicals we use our combined expertise in the field of biotechnology, organic chemistry and biocatalysis, in addition to our knowledge of polymer processing and characterisation.

Fine chemicals

Fine chemicals are a special field within our research into biobased chemicals. Fine chemicals such as polypeptides and polysaccharides are produced in smaller volumes and at a higher cost than bulk chemicals. We develop these specific chemicals for applications with a high value, such as aroma substances and flavourings or  pharmaceuticals. Examples of fine chemicals we work on are glucosaminoglycans that help prevent blood clotting, and polypeptides (protein polymers) and biobased chemicals which serve as emulsifiers in cosmetics or food ingredients. We produce these specific chemicals from various types of biomass such as carbohydrates, fats, oils, lignin and protein. Our combined expertise in the field of biotechnology, organic chemistry and biocatalysis is invaluable in the development of fine chemicals.

Performance-enhancing chemicals

By adding specialty chemicals we enhance the performance of products based on petroleum and products based on biomass. Due to the strong growth in the number of biobased bulk products (such as bioplastics) the relevance of biobased specialty chemicals is increasing; they enhance the performance of biobased bulk products. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research offers its clients many years of experience in working on specialty and fine chemicals, and the facilities to develop and test these chemicals.