Waste gas could have potential in polymer feedstocks
Chemical group Evonik Industries and gas fermentation specialist Lanzatech have signed an agreement to develop a method of producing ‘bioprocessed’ precursors for specialty plastics from waste synthesis gas.
The three-year agreement will combine research from both companies, with a goal to manufacture the precursors by placing microorganisms in fermenters with synthesis gas, converting it into useful chemical commodities. The synthesis gases used comprise mainly of either carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide and hydrogen and can come from a variety of gasified biomass waste streams including forestry and agricultural residues and gasified municipal solid waste.
“Industrial biotechnology is one of the core competences of Evonik. It enables new approaches to specialty chemicals and processes,” said Professor Stefan Buchholz, Head of Creavis, Evonik’s strategic innovation arm. Creavis’ function is to develop alternative bio-based methods for the production of specialty chemicals. “The use of renewables and specific waste streams is one of the main focuses of our research and development work, and LanzaTech offers an additional interesting approach,” said Buchholz.
“Synthetic biology is changing the face of the chemicals industry enabling production of ‘green’ chemicals that play a valuable part in our daily lives,” said Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO of LanzaTech. “We have developed the knowledge and capability to use waste resources to produce these chemicals and our partnership with Evonik plays an important part in bringing these technologies to the world.”
LanzaTech uses proprietary microorganisms to capture waste gas streams, including synthesis gas for the production of low carbon fuels and chemical intermediates.
In the the December 2013 issue, EPPM published a piece from the nova-Institut, in which the research body stated that waste CO2 is “ready to go” as a feedstock for use in polymer structures, namely polyurethane foam, with others being explored. With the like of Bayer MaterialScience already on-track to commercialise the process in 2015, it seems other giants like Evonik are also backing the technology. This year could see the formation of a marketplace for polymers derived from waste gases.