Biome Bioplastics Ltd (Biome) and the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) in partnership with the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE) at the University of York have strengthened their relationship by purchasing and installing a new specialist polymerisation reactor. Part funded by the University of York‘s Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), this new piece of equipment installed at the BDC will play a central role in further process optimisation, production and scale-up of Biome’s growing portfolio of novel bioplastics.
Over the last 3 years, Biome has worked closely with the University of York’s Biology and Chemistry departments and the BDC on a translational R&D project. Funded with the support of Innovate UK, this comprehensive work has led to the creation and evaluation of a family of novel, bio-based plastics that are highly functional in their performance and are also biodegradable.
Bio-based plastics are similar in structure to traditional oil-based plastics – long chains of monomer molecules joined together by a process called polymerisation. In contrast to the traditional oil-based plastics that use monomers derived from finite fossil fuels, these building blocks for bio-based plastics come from renewable materials such as agricultural waste, plants and trees.
Biodegradable plastics are designed to degrade at the end of their useful life to carbon dioxide and water though natural microbial and fungal decay in a controlled waste management environment, such as industrial composters and anaerobic digesters.
Mark Gronnow, Process Development Unit Manager at the BDC commented: “This project epitomises what the BDC is for – helping lab scale inventions produce larger quantities of material and scale up towards commercial production.”
In recent months, the BDC has provided the expertise and access to their R&D facilities to enable the polymerisation of a selected number of these new bioplastics at kilogram quantities.
James Comerford, Post-doctoral Research Associate from the GCCE added: “The developed materials have tuneable biodegradability which allows us to tailor the properties to fit its application, in particular, sustainable packaging of perishable products. The scale up to kilogram quantities is a huge step forward in getting ideas out of the laboratory and into the real world.”
This new reactor will enable the further scale-up of the manufacturing process to produce tens of kilograms of these exciting new materials for further technical and commercial evaluation.
Krisztina Kovacs-Schreiner, Biome’s Business Development Manager commented: “This investment in the scale-up of our novel polyester bioplastics is an important next step for Biome’s development work. We are delighted to be extending our work with BDC and the broader teams at the University of York. Over the last few years, we have achieved very encouraging results in working collaboratively with York’s professional and flexible team and we look forward to working together as we bring these materials towards commercialisation.”
About Biome Bioplastics
Biome Bioplastics is a leading UK developer of intelligent, natural plastics. Serving a global customer base from its headquarters in Southampton, the company’s mission is to produce bioplastics to challenge the dominance of oil-based polymers and ultimately replace them completely.
Building on 20 years of development activity, Biome Bioplastics produces a range of high-performance, plant-based bioplastics that are industrially and home compostable. Its biopolymers are suitable for both short-life and disposable products, as well as long-life, durable applications.
The Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence (GCCE) is part of the Department of Chemistry at the University of York. The GCCE is a world-leading academic facility for pioneering pure and applied green and sustainable chemical research through its technology platforms on microwave chemistry, alternative solvents, clean synthesis and bio-based mesoporous materials. Our facilities allow us to work from grams to kilograms with a strong emphasis on waste valorisation and clean technologies. The GCCE also provides high quality education and training programmes and develops strategic partnerships with global corporations and world-leading universities.
The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) is a an open-access R&D centre, based at the University of York, working at the interface between academia and industry to convert plants, microbes and biowastes into profitable biorenewable products. With biologists, chemists, and business specialists the BDC team offers a unique combination of multi-disciplinary expertise coupled with pilot-scale processing capabilities in one coordinated centre. Covering a broad spectrum of biorefining technologies, from feedstock assessment to product evaluation, the team specialise in making the most out of biorenewable materials; helping ideas to survive the valley of death; and de-risking the innovation process.
Anna Alessi, Project and Communications Manager, BDC
Telephone: 01904 32 8052