Researchers at the University of Leuven's Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis (Belgium) have published research in the journal Science that suggests a new method of simplifying the PLA production process and making it waste-free.
This new process is reduced to a single step: it has lowered 100C the temperature of the process: the productivity is increased (product per volum of reactor per hour, it's of 85% compared to 60-70% alternatives): and due to lowered temperature of the process it doesn't produce by-products, making the process waste-free. All these factor made that this biobased PLA becomes cost-effective.
The PLA produced by this process will degrade after few years in particular environemnts, while is also industrially compostable and recyclable. It's biocompatible, so suitable for medical use, and is also one of the few plastics suitable for 3D printing.
The competitiveness of this new process for PLA sysnthesis can be a game-changer for introducing biobased PLA into bio-plastic market. The patent of this new process was recently sold to a petrochemical company that will scale-up the process to understand the commercial feasibility of the process.
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