Sulzer Chemtech has announced a strategic partnership with Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. The global process technology specialist and research institute are combining their capabilities to develop new methods to produce competitive bio-based foamed polymers. These will provide material properties equivalent to their fossil-based counterparts while featuring extremely low environmental footprints.
Polymer foams have been in the market for more than 80 years and play a central role in products used in our everyday lives, from sofas and beds to food packaging for takeaways. Their light weight and good thermal insulation properties can support a broad range of applications. Nevertheless, their limited recyclability and sustainability are significant challenges that companies and research institutes need to overcome to support a circular economy of plastic.
Foaming process and foaming technology to market
With a focus on the development of scalable processing methods for bio-based foamed materials, the partnership between Sulzer Chemtech and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research aims to increase the market share of cost-competitive bio-based polymers in different sectors. The development of key manufacturing processes and technologies will help Sulzer Chemtech’s customers and end users benefit from solutions that anticipate the needs of tomorrow. These include providing more sustainable materials. In effect, the use of renewable materials in foamed products can reduce the carbon footprint of goods, improving their attractiveness from both a financial and sustainability standpoint.
Daniel Rytz, Global Head Strategy and Technologies at Sulzer Chemtech, comments: “This partnership is yet another milestone on Sulzer Chemtech’s journey towards enabling a circular economy. As the technology leader for the production of polylactic acid, this joint foam application development will open up new areas for bio-based plastics and is a further step towards achieving our own sustainability goals.”
According to Aline Sanchez, Business Developer on Circular Economy of Plastics at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research: “This partnership shows the need of research institutes to work directly with private companies to develop ideas into projects that can shape and transform the future of industry. Together, we are able to reach the sustainability goals that we as society and the scientific community should have as our ultimate goal.”
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research will bring its ample experience in sustainable innovation, i.e. biobased resources, chemistry, material science and technology, while Sulzer Chemtech, as the leader in separation and mixing technology, will share its extensive knowledge and product portfolio for advanced foaming processes as well as for the production and purification of bio-based monomers.