WAGENINGEN, the Netherlands - At the beginning of May, the Chemistry of Advanced Materials council of the Top Sector Chemistry gave the green light for nine new projects in the Biobased Performance Materials (BPM) program. Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, together with 25 partners, will be focusing on materials made from plant-based raw materials. The research will be concentrating on, for example, roof coverings and carpet tiles made from 100-percent biobased bitumen, biobased alternatives for digital printer inks (2D and 3D) and particle board made from natural waste materials.

The projects, all of which run for two to three years, include research leading to the development of specific end products, investigations into biobased replacements with improved and/or new properties, and the development of new processes and technologies for biobased materials. Christiaan Bolck, Program Manager, Biobased Materials, commented, “The new package consists of a wide variety of projects and applications. The program therefore guarantees an excellent range of in-depth, technological and innovative research.”

In addition to research into biobased bitumen, printer inks and particleboard, there will be projects looking at biobased alternatives for industrial glues and also at the application potential of biobased plastics made using succinic acid. At the same time, several projects will involve more in-depth research into the application of some of the biobased building blocks already developed, for example: analyzing further opportunities for scaling up the production of isoidide polymers for high-performance polyesters, and investigating itaconic and citric acids in more detail in relation to developing biobased methyl acrylic acid for use in resins and latex.

Biobased polymers provide not only an alternative for oil-based products; they can also lead to materials with enhanced and entirely new properties, examples being printer inks with better performance, polyurethane elastomers with improved water resistance, and polymer compounds with even more useful properties. The whole package of research projects is complemented by research into processes and technologies aimed at improving the deployment of biobased polymers. To that end, there will be research into the production of PLA foams by means of extrusion as well as into the potential compatibility between starch and polyethylene for forming extruded film-barrier materials.

Two to four industrial partners are collaborating in each of the nine new BPM projects. These companies, ranging in size from large to small, are located in the Netherlands and abroad. The partners, together with Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, form a diverse group, all involved in different parts of the manufacturing chain, including raw materials, polymers, compounds, processing, end products, and machine production.

The first wave of projects in the successful BPM program has recently been completed. The results of these nine projects are online at the BPM Magazine website and are downloadable at www.biobasedperformancematerials.nl/uk.