Bioplastics Fueled by Sugar Cane Trash

A Renmatix employee pours sugar liquor produced from woody biomass with the company's water-based Plantrose process. (Source: Renmatix)

Plastics and chemical giant BASF is betting on a process that converts plant waste materials to sugars that form a major ingredient of biofuels and bioplastics.

The German company has invested $30 million in US-based Renmatix, whose Plantrose process can turn lignocellulosic biomass — such as wood, straw, or cane trash — into large volumes of cost-competitive industrial sugars. Since the process does not use edible plant biomass as a feedstock, such as corn for ethanol, it does not compete with the production of food for people or feed for animals.

Industrial sugars are a key element of bio-based chemicals and fuels, including polypropylene and polyethylene, and can produce these substances via fermentative processes. However, celluose sugars are extremely tough to break down.

Check out this flash animation describing the process (mouse over the individual stages):

[Read the full article at Design News]

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