Lanxess Reports Successful PBT Trials with Bio-based BDO Feedstock

Trial production of polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) at the Hamm-Uentrop, Germany, plant of specialty chemicals producer Lanxess, using bio-based 1.4 butanediol (BDO) made according to the process developed by U.S.-based Genomatica, have proven that the renewable route to the polymer is commercially feasible, the two companies said.

In the test, Lanxess fed 20 t of the 100% bio-based BDO into the continuous production process at the 80,000 t/y polymerization facility it operates in a joint venture with DuPont. The company said it found that the properties and the quality of the resulting product were "fully equivalent" to conventional petroleum-based PBT.

Also using the Genomatica process, Japanese chemicals and plastics producer Toray in May said it had developed a partially bio-based PBT at bench scale with physical properties and formability equivalent to polymer made from conventional BDO. Toray also has made prototypes of molded components, and before scaling up to commercial production it plans to share samples of its bio-based PBT with customers to help develop market demand.

Hartwig Meier, head of global product and application development in Lanxess' High Performance Materials business unit said the successful test with the renewable BDO is a "strong signal to the market and a tremendous step forward" in its plans to offer a bio-based version of its PBT sold under the "Pocan" trade name. Due to the unchanged properties, bio-based Pocan can be used directly in such established applications such as automotive and E&E, he said. 



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