Gorinchem, The Netherlands - PURAC and partners Sulzer Chemtech and Synbra Technology have been given the 2008 Frost & Sullivan European Polylactic Production Technology Innovation of the Year Award.
This award recognises PURAC's innovations in polylactic acid based (PLA) bioplastics. PURAC and its partners have developed what it claims is "a new cost-effective polymerisation process to produce high-quality polylactic acid from a renewable source." The PLA can then be converted into a variety of value-added applications such as expanded PLA-based biofoam, said the company, in a 19 May announcement.
PURAC's website lists also uses for PLA in production of ethoxylated surfactants or propoxylated polyether polyols, and as an additive in polyurethane formulations.
The award acknowledges "our break-through efforts in the creation of sustainable bioplastics solutions. This result has been possible only by combining the unique set of competences in bio-technology, polymerisation and process know-how and expanded foam technology of each individual company," said PURAC managing director Fabrizio Rampinelli, in the statement.
In alkoxylation, PURAC says the catalyst (normally potassium hydroxide) must be neutralised. Using PLA, no filtration of precipitated salts is necessary and, the end product has a better odour, the company added.
Meanwhile in polyurethane formulations, PLA can improve stability of the catalyst, aid processing and enhance isocyanate conversion, the company's literature says. PLA can also act as a blowing agent, so that lower amounts of water are needed, giving "better curing and adhesion of the foam," PURAC comments.
"Lactic acid in combination with alkylamino oxamide functions as a good catalyst, resulting in urethane foams with good physical properties," the company said.