'New tailor-made biopolymers produced from lignocellulosic sugars waste for highly demanding fire-resistant applications'

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Investments rise in global PHA market as consumption estimated at CAGR of 27.7% till 2018

Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) market consumption will grow from an estimated 10,000 MT in 2013 to 34,000 MT by 2018, with a CAGR of 27.7% from 2013 to 2018. Rising demand of biodegradable materials, positive attitude of governments towards green procurement policies, and rising oil prices are attracting companies to invest in PHA market, as per Markets and Markets. Many large companies such as Meredian (US), Ecomann (China) and Bio-on (Italy) are focusing on increasing production capacities.
As per Wikipedia, these plastics are biodegradable and are used in the production of bioplastics. They can be either thermoplastic or elastomeric materials, with melting points ranging from 40°C to 180°C. The mechanical and biocompatibility of PHA can also be changed by blending, modifying the surface or combining PHA with other polymers, enzymes and inorganic materials, making it possible for a wider range of applications PHA polymers are thermoplastic, can be processed on conventional processing equipment, and are, depending on their composition, ductile and more or less elastic. They differ in their properties according to their chemical composition (homo-or copolyester, contained hydroxy fatty acids). They are UV stable, in contrast to other bioplastics from polymers such as polylactic acid, partial ca. temperatures up to 180° C, and show a low permeation of water. The crystallinity can lie in the range of a few to 70%. Processability, impact strength and flexibility improves with a higher percentage of valerate in the material. PHAs are soluble in halogenated solvents such as chloroform, dichloromethane, dichloroethane.As per MarketsandMarkets, a large number of companies, particularly small and middle-sized ones, initiated the experimental and industrialized manufacturing of all types of PHAs. Polyhydroxyalkanoate can be produced using various renewable raw materials. Currently, majority of PHA is produced using plant sugar, which can be easily obtained from sugarcane, corn sugar and sugar beet, making it an ideal raw material for PHA. Considerable amount of PHA is also produced using plant or vegetable oils such as soybean oil, palm oil and corn oil. Waste lipids and milk whey are the other raw materials at experimental stage and can be commercialized soon. Although the existing PHA plant capacities are underutilized at present, the companies are still planning for further capacity expansions. Analyzing the wide range of possible applications and upcoming trends of biodegradable plastics, companies are expecting significant growth in market demand in the near future. Currently, high prices and performance issues are the two major restraints for PHA Market. Generally, the cost of production of biodegradable plastics such as PHA is 20% to 80% higher than the conventional plastics. This is primarily due to the high polymerization cost of biodegradable plastics as most of the processes are still in the developmental stage. PHA Market is at its initial stage of technology cycle and not yet achieved economies of scale. The market is at a stage where there is high capacity but low consumption. Most of the players are into research and development for increasing the performance of their produced PHA. In future, with increase in production, the prices will come down. Companies trying to produce PHA in near future are opting for increasing the performance of their products through investments in R&D. This is to ensure that the new products developed are more distinguished and revolutionary in terms of features than the ones already available. Lower prices and improved performance of PHA will boost its demand in future.

The renewable chemical market is driven by the increasing demand from the food packaging industry, biodegradable & compostable plastics, and other consumer products. The renewable chemicals market is estimated to reach US$84.8 bln by 2018 with a CARG of 7.7%. While alcohols currently form the largest segment of the renewable chemicals market, the polymers segment holds the maximum growth potential at an expected CAGR of 13% from 2013 to 2018. The renewable chemicals market includes all the chemicals obtained from renewable feedstock such as agricultural raw materials, agricultural waste products or biomass microorganisms etc. The development of this market is driven by the fact that renewable chemicals decouple economic growth from finite, non-renewable resource consumption, and also help diversify the feedstock portfolio. The renewable chemicals market is currently facing considerable competition from conventional chemicals derived from petrochemical feedstock. Because the chemicals market is susceptible to the volatility in crude oil prices, market participants are increasingly experiencing the need to make a paradigm shift from conventional petrochem feedstock to renewable feedstock. This move would not only bring in economic benefits, it would also successfully address the rising concern over greenhouse gas emissions and their lasting impact on the natural environment.

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This project has received funding from the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration