Products made from renewable raw materials
The challenge for plant chemistry is to respond to the shrinking supply of fossils resources and to environmental concerns by using alternative raw materials.
The foreseeable depletion of fossil resources as well as environmental imperatives is pushing the chemical industry to turn to raw materials of plant origin to produce bioplastics. The advantage of this approach is that plants are renewable. In addition, to be able to grow, plants capture the CO2 present in the air, thereby helping to reduce the greenhouse effect.
A number of manufactured products are already made from these polymers of plant origin: shoes, eye glasses, mobile telephones, automobile parts, packaging, etc.
A strategic priority for the Arkema group
The Arkema group has long been developing components made from raw materials of plant origin, especially castor oil. The advantage of castor oil plants is that they grow in arid soils and therefore do not compete with food crops.
Based on this experience, the Group has developed several polymer technologies. The following main ones are:
- Rilsan® - a high performance polyamide, 100% issued from castor oil, used in many fields such as oil exploration and transport.
- Pebax® Rnew - a thermoplastic elastomer, partially bio-sourced, used in sports shoes, and also in dental floss and catheters.
The Arkema Group has now a large family of bio-based polymers, with characteristics sometimes better than those of petroleum-derived chemical products.
Developing new avenues
R&D is exploring other opportunities based on other plant species with the aim of increasing the use of renewable raw materials.
Glycerol, a polyol coming from the manufacture of biofuels, and made from plants such as rapeseed, sunflowers and soybeans could replace propylene in some specific cases. The latter is used in the manufacture of acrolein and acrylic acid, two products which have a host of applications, ranging from pharmaceutical products to animal feed and the paper industry.
Another example: additives for paving grade bitumens Cecabase® RT, developed by CECA, a subsidiary of the Arkema group. These additives contain surfactants (50% are made from raw materials of renewable origin) and have the following characteristics:
- reduction of approximately 50°C in the application temperature of bitumen,
- 20 to 50% decrease in energy consumption compared to the standard process,
- 90% reduction in dust and gas generated during the production of the bitumen mix, and then improvement of the working conditions of the field personnel.
Arkema Renewables – a label for bioproducts
The products of the Arkema group which are made from raw materials of renewable origin (over 20% non-fossil based carbon) carry the Arkema Renewables label.