There is set to be new research carried to investigate whether organic chemicals derived from lignin, a waste product from the pulp and paper industry, could be used in the manufacture of high performance bioplastics.
The UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, has awarded a grant to a consortium led by Biome Technologies, to investigate a bio-based alternative for the oil derived organic chemicals used in the manufacturer of bioplastics.
The research will be undertaken by the group’s bioplastic division Biome Bioplstics, one of the UK’s leading developers of natural plastics, in conjunction with the University of Warwick’s Centre for Biotechnology and Biorefining.
The £150,000 grant is part of the Technology Strategy Board’s ‘Sustainable high value chemical manufacture through industrial biotechnology’ technical feasability competition, which funds projects that apply sustainable bio-based feedstocks and biocatalytic processes in the production of chemicals.
Although bioplastics are based on natural materials, some oil-based chemicals are widely used in their manufacture to convey properties including mechanical strength, tear resistance and durability. Deriving these chemicals from a plentiful, natural source could significantly reduce costs, expand functionality and increase performance in bioplastics, enhancing their ability to compete with, and ultimately replace, conventional oil-based plastics.
Using biological materials to make industrial products is recognised by the UK government as a promising means of developing less carbon instensive products and processes, with an estimated value to the UK of between £4bn and £12bn by 2025.