Bioplastics firm Purac is teaming up with Arkema to develop Lactide-based block copolymers, which the companies claim will improve the thermo-mechanical qualities of bio-based polymers such as PLA.
Under the terms of the deal, Purac will provide L- and D-Lactide monomers and Arkema will provide the polymerisation technology. Arkema has developed a new ring-opening polymerisation process which is based on organic catalysis. “The process helps produce high purity copolymers from cyclic compounds such as Lactides and lactones, providing environmental benefits due to absence of metal residues,” says the firm. Purac spokesperson Lex Borghans told European Plastics News that the companies have not yet decided which one will sell the range of block copolymers or where they will be sold. Purac and Arkema are also looking at applications for the copolymers, he added. Purac is a subsidiary of CSM, which earlier this year announced a new Purac lactide manufacturing unit in Thailand. CSM is investing €45m in the new facility, which will have the capacity to produce 75,000 tonnes of lactides a year. The unit is located on CSM subsidiary Purac’s existing site at Rayong.