In Italy, plastic is made from sugar!

A former petrochemical site in the Po plain has found a second life. This reconversion is also unparalleled since an Italian company opened the first factory in the world there to manufacture plastic based on organic elements, namely bio-sourced Butanediol.

Bio-based Butanediol or Bio-Butanediol (BDO) “is a chemical product widely used in the fine chemical sectors, in electronics. It is a consumer product in the products derived from plastic. The great innovation is the production of this product through fermentation. We are moving from petroleum-based chemistry to water- and sugar-based chemistry, so it is much more “friendly” with respect to the environment”, according to Stefano Dessi, executive director of the Mater-Biotech plant.

This factory located in Bottrighe (Adria), in north-eastern Italy, was created by the company Novamont, a company created in 1990 which is now the world leader in bioplastics and with a thousand patents filed concerning biopolymers and other biobased products. The objective of this company is to produce 30,000 tons of Bio-Butanediol each year when the Mater-Biotech plant will be running at full capacity during the course of 2017.

This is a major breakthrough, simply because Butanediol manufacturing processes usually rely on fossil fuels such as petroleum. The basic organic compound of Bio-Butanediol is much healthier since it is simply sugar.

“The first stage of production begins in the laboratory and consists of the preparation of the inoculum. We start with the culture of frozen microorganisms in a small flask we grow them in a larger container under controlled temperature and once this growth face is finished we transfer the inoculum in its fermentation phase”, explains Enrico Casareto, quality manager at Mater-Biotech.

Sources: Euronews – Biomass Magazine – Green formula

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