The 2008 Frost & Sullivan European Polylactic Production Technology Innovation of the Year Award in the field of Polylactic Acid Production goes to PURAC, Sulzer Chemtech and Synbra Technology for jointly developing a new, cost-effective polymerisation process to produce high-quality polylactic acid (PLA) from a biorenewable resource.
"The companies are lauded for their efforts at realising a novel, economical polymerisation process and their commitment toward commercialising this technology for varied high-performance applications," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Aravind Chander. "The trend toward biorenewable materials and products is likely to set PURAC-Sulzer's approach as a benchmark in the arena of PLA manufacture and processing."
This proprietary process shared by PURAC, Sulzer Chemtech and Synbra Technology relies on polymerisation and devolatilisation technology to efficiently produce a range of PLA products from the specialty lactides supplied by PURAC. This unique offering will significantly reduce process and product development times, enabling faster and more reliable market entry for PLA producers.
"The new technology will enable a more efficient production of different PLA products and will reduce the process and product development time," explains Chander. "In addition, the new process requires limited investment and will, therefore, be more affordable, significantly lowering the entry barrier for PLA production."
Since PURAC produces 2 different lactides (D and L), new and innovative PLA polymers (like stereocomplexes), and better properties (like better high temperature stability), can become a reality.
Based on this polymerisation technology, Synbra Technology has recently developed its first product; expanded PLA using the proprietary technology platform. The foamed product, BioFoam®, made from the PLA, is complementary to the company's wide range of polystyrene foam products. The new process requires substantially lower investment and has unmatched potential for economic scale-up to high volumes.
"BioFoam® is beneficial due to its ease of handling, durability, cleanliness, and excellent quality," states Chander. "Because of its closed-cell structure, BioFoam® is moisture proof to prevent distortion and contamination."
The company has targeted a capacity of 5,000 tonnes/year to be operational by the end of 2009. Synbra Technology intends to assume a leading position in Europe as a supplier of biologically degradable polymers from renewable sources and plans to expand the PLA capacity to 50,000 tonnes/year.
Frost & Sullivan's Technology Innovation Award is bestowed upon a company (or individual) that has carried out new research, which has resulted in innovation(s) that have or are expected to bring significant contributions to the industry in terms of adoption, change, and competitive posture. This award recognises the quality and depth of a company's research and development program as well as the vision and risk-taking that enabled it to undertake such an endeavor.
Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research in order to identify best practices in the industry.
PURAC (csm.nl, purac.com) is the worldwide market leader in lactic acid, lactic acid derivatives and lactides. The company has over 70 years of experience in the development, manufacturing and marketing of these products in a broad range of industries. PURAC operates production plants in the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil and Thailand and markets its products through a worldwide network of sales offices and distributors.
PURAC has a strong focus on the development of the bioplastics market offering innovative solutions and partnering with a select group of companies in the plastics industry. PURAC is headquartered in The Netherlands and is a part of CSM.
About Sulzer Chemtech
Sulzer Chemtech (sulzerchemtech.com) is a market and technology leader in the area of Static Mixing and Reaction Technology with some 100,000 references over a wide range of applications such as polymer production, polymer finishing, plastics processing and broader chemical process industries. With global footprint related to sales, engineering, fabrication and customer services Sulzer Chemtech serves the segments in the oil and gas, hydrocarbon processing, petrochemicals and polymer production industries.
Sulzer Chemtech has annual sales of CHF 823 million and over 2,700 people worldwide and is a division of Sulzer Corporation.
About Synbra Technology
Synbra Technology bv in Etten-Leur, The Netherlands, is specialised in the manufacture of Styrex® Expandable Polystyrene (EPS) beads, BioFoam® Expandable Polylactic acid (PLA) and PS and PLA Compounds. Synbra Technology bv is also the largest EPS recycler in Western Europe. The company was founded in 1957 and EPS polymerisation started in 1973. EPS recycling commenced in 1993. PLA polymerisation is scheduled to commence at the end of 2009.
Synbra Technology bv has been awarded by the Dutch rubber and plastics federation (NRK) with the prestigious gold medal for being the most innovative and sustainable enterprise in 2009.
About Frost & Sullivan
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