Products made from renewable raw materials
The challenge for plant chemistry developed by the Arkema group 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.
Arkema is fully engaged in the biorefining concept
A unique expertise in the castor oil chemistry
Arkema enjoys a unique expertise in castor oil chemistry, the raw material of its polyamide 11, marketed under Rilsan® brand. Castor plant has the advantage to grow in arid soils and therefore does not compete with food crops.
Rilsan® is a high performance polymer, 100% bio-based, used in demanding applications such as flexibles for offshore oil exploration or tubular systems in car underhood applications.Its main properties are :
- a high mechanical strength,
- a remarkable thermal stability and resistance to chemical corrosion.
Arkema speeds up its development in green chemistry
In 2012, Arkema bolstered its position in polyamides by the acquisition of two Chinese companies : Casda, the world leader in sebacic acid derived from castor oil, and Hipro Polymers, which produces polyamides 10 (Hiprolon® range) from sebacic acid. Arkema also purchased in 2013 a stake in Ihsedu Agrochem, a subsidiary of Jayant Agro in India, supplier of castor oil. With its unique integration, Arkema has now an unsurpassed offering in bio-sourced polyamides.
Bio-sourced polymers : a strategic priority for the Arkema group
- Pebax® Rnew, a thermoplastic elastomer partially bio-based, extremely resistant. Its elasticity remains intact at very low temperatures. It is used in the soles of sneakers or shells ski boots.
- Rilsan® HT, a polyamide in the polyphthalamides (PPA) family, also partially bio-based, combining for the first time "ultra flexibility" and resistance to high temperatures. These characteristics allow it to replace metal and rubber used in tubular applications in car engines. It thus helps to reduce the weight of vehicles and reduce fuel consumption.
- Rilsan® Clear Rnew, a fully transparent and high performance polyamide, used in optical and medical applications.
- Platamid Rnew®, enables the production of hot melt adhesives for gluing clothing and industrial textiles.
All these bio-based polymers boast characteristics sometimes better than those of oil-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 from Arkema which are made from raw materials of renewable origin (over 20% non-fossil based carbon) carry the Arkema Renewables label.
They account for some 12% of Arkema's sales, and should rise to 15% by 2016.