By Frank Esposito, Plastics News Staff
Battelle Memorial Institute has licensed technology to make soybean-based polyols to agricultural firm Emery OleoChemicals of Cincinnati.
Emery began sampling the polyols to customers earlier this year and could be making the bio-polyols in commercial quantities in Cincinnati by the end of the year, Battelle senior market manager Rick Heggs said in a 14 June phone interview.
The new polyols can be used in flexible and rigid foams, polyurethane coatings and adhesives, officials with Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle said. The technology can replace oil-based polyols and provide farmers an additional outlet for their crops, they added.
Potential end uses for the bio-polyols include furniture, seating and paints. Battelle's bio-polyol research was funded by the Ohio Soybean Council and the United Soybean Council. Other successful Battelle projects founded by those groups include soy-based PVC plasticizers as well as lubricants, coatings and toner.
Emery plans to price the bio-polyols at parity with their oil-based counterparts, Heggs said.
The technology licensed by Emery is distinct from technology developed by Battelle and the OSC that's being used by Biobent Polymers, a Marysville, Ohio-based firm that's developed materials that combine soy meal with polyethylene and polypropylene.
As the US economy has worked to recover from the recent global downturn, interest in bioplastics and similar materials developed by Battelle has increased, Heggs said. Well-known companies interested in such products include Wal-Mart Stores, Procter & Gamble and DuPont Co., he added.
"Interest is growing in these materials," Heggs said. "They're being looked at as a way to reinvigorate a product line and as a way to develop technology and create jobs that are non-exportable."
Emery is a global firm that makes a variety of oleochemicals from organic raw materials. The compnay employs more than 1000 and posted sales of almost $1 billion (Euro 69 million) in 2010.