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First facility for producing bioplastics from biodiesel byproduct glycerol

Bio-on and S.E.C.I. S.p.A, a part of Gruppo Industriale Maccaferri holding, will build the first facility for the production of PHAs bioplastic from the biodiesel byproduct glycerol. The production site will initially have a capacity of 5,000 tons/year output, expandable to 10,000 tons/year.

The €55-million facility will be located at an Eridania Sadam—a holding of Maccaferri—site. PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are bioplastics that can replace a number of traditional polymers currently made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons. The PHAs developed by Bio-on guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties with the advantage of being completely naturally biodegradable.

We are investing 4 million Euro in purchasing the license for this new technology developed by Bio-on because this all-natural bioplastic represents a technological challenge that can contribute towards the growth of our group in the new “green” chemistry industry, with an eco-compatible and eco-sustainable approach.

—Eridania Sadam Chairman Massimo Maccaferri

We have granted the first technological license from glycerol in line with our expectations and will be entering into a new collaboration to develop the promising high-performing biopolymers business developed by Bio-on S.p.A. and produced in Italy from glycerol by S.E.C.I. S.p.a.

—Marco Astorri, Chairman of Bio-on S.p.A.



With something like this as a binder for carbon fibers produced directly from CO2 and electricity, the dependence of high-strength materials on either petroleum or metal ores looks to be a thing of the past.  When the raw materials are air and water, scarcity isn't a realistic prospect.


Recycling of plastics, rubber (tyres) and similar hydro carbon based waste streams to fuels oils and new manufactured products has been proven effective via numerous techniques.
Glycerol as a by product surplus from some biofuel refining processes is especially useful as it is available in industrially useful quantities as a clean feedstock.

Reprocessing many times would help to keep these fossil or bio derived HC's from contributing to atmospheric burden.

I wonder how the carbon nano particles rate compared to Asbestos type fine particles.
The exploration of health and environmental impacts of nano is still infant and as with plastic pollution we are expected to tolerate the impacts while the required studies are seen as not making a return on investment. The accumulation of financial returns to irresponsible behaviour continues unchallenged.

We certainly need to explore options and as inquiry is an essential part of humans' nature is 'who we are'.
The loss of opportunity to pursue this side of our nature owing to economic constraints is deplorable.


It seems to me that the main advantage of these polymers is that this plastic is biodegradable (so it's not too bad if the plastic is thrown into the environment).

I agree production of plastic from CO2 is the future for a renewable society, but other pathways seem more suitable (because these plastics are not very strong nor durable).

@Arnold : "carbon nanoparticles" are being emitted into the air in huge quantities through ICE's, power plants, forest fires,... (soot is actually a mixture of carbon nanoparticles).
We should certainly limit and study it, but the airborn emissions of carbon nanoparticles will be much lower than what it is today, once ICE's and fossil powerplants are abandoned. At this moment already the air polution of "carbon nanoparticles" is only a fraction of what it was 30 years ago. (at least in the West)

Another pathway of glycerol seems particularly intersting to me:
Glycerol --> propanol --> propylene --> acrylonitrile --> carbon fiber --> car

We can make entire cars from glycerol waste streams !


Glycerol is already recycled into a variety of products. The problem is obtaining it in a very clean form and one which is sensible from a logistical angle -- no backyard biodiesel stills. The "fatcan" campaign ended with WWII.

I suggest that since fermentation and not some more arcane direction of biosynthesis such as millions of tons of antibiotic is the most practical mass direction of biotech, that we predicate plastics and other industries around the abundance of alcohol.

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