UK plans to scale up renewables polymers production

A pioneering project to create a plastics polymer from renewable resources has unveiled plans to build, what it claims, is the UK's first bio-polymer demostration facility.

Technology and licensing company Plaxica has awarded engineers Grimley Smith Associates (GSA) the contract of building the facility at Wilton International on Teesside.

As part of its ongoing work, Plaxica is exploring how platform chemicals from renewable resources, such as sugarcane, cereals and cellulose can be used in energy-efficient processes to produce second generation high performance polylactic acid (PLA) based materials.

While nearly all existing polymers – including high volume materials, such as PET, polystyrene, polypropylene, polyethylene and PVC – are derived from petrochemical feedstocks, Plaxica said its PLA polymers are expected to match or exceed the properties and application of petrochemical based polymers, while offering a “lower environmental footprint compared with conventional oil-based plastics and fibres.

It is anticipated that the new facility will enable Plaxica to gain important data on the performance of the technology before scaling up the process for full operation.

Plaxica chief operating officer Mark Sutton said the facility would help “move our technology through demonstration to commercial implementation and licensing”.

Carys Matthews

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