Technological watch

Novomer shows feasibility of its PHA polymerization process

Rochester, N.Y.-based sustainable materials company Novomer has developed efficient catalyst technology that allows for the commercial production of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biopolymers.

The company says it has successfully produced its compostable Rinnovo materials at demonstration scale and is now looking to take the technology to the next level.

"As a company focused on scalable materials for the circular economy, Novomer has committed significant resources towards its mission to cost-effectively address the plastic waste challenge," Novomer CEO Jeff Uhrig said.

Following the successful demonstration of its technology, Novomer will now begin the design and engineering of a commercial facility with a capacity of 80,000 metric tons per year. Construction is set to begin in 2022.

Rinnovo is made using proprietary and highly selective catalysts, a route offering scale and cost advantages over incumbent methods. It is produced via Novomer's patented COEthTM technology which is designed to convert ethylene oxide and carbon monoxide to produce lactones. The demonstration plant utilizes a low-cost initiator to facilitate ring-opening polymerization.

Under the conditions of chain propagation, Novomer has achieved molecular weights required for commercial applications, such as bags, labeling, agricultural films and waste packaging. It is flexible and provides over 500 percent elongation for the production of blown film while also offering higher tensile strength than polyethylene.

"Brand owners need assurances that compostable solutions can be cost effective and scaled," Uhrig said.

"Ultimately, the mission of Rinnovo materials is not only to provide sustainable end-of-life outcomes for polymers but support even broader initiatives to enhance collection and composting of food and agricultural waste, improve soil quality and reduce global emissions," he added.

Novomer's PHA has been tested and meets the requirements of ASTM D6400, the U.S. standard specification for compostable plastics, along with the European Union's EN13432 directive for compostable and biodegradable packaging.

Publication date: 08/03/2021

Plastics News - packaging


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.