DuPont Engineering Polymers recently announced plans to roll out two new bio-polymers in 2007.
Both take advantage of a patented single-step fermentation process that DuPont has developed to turn corn sugar into propanediol (PDO). This Bio-PDO can be used to make variety of plastics, cutting down on the use of petrochemicals. The company's new bio-polymers will come in two flavors at first.
One combines Bio-PDO and terephthalic acid into a material called polytrimethylene terephthalate. That's a mouthful, but DuPont will market the material under the easy-to-pronounce "Sorona" moniker. About 37 percent of the material's content will come from renewable resources, reports Nandan Rao, global vice president of technology for DuPont Performance Materials. He says Sorona, which can be reinforced with glass, has properties that will let it compete with popular engineering resins from a mechanical properties standpoint. "It performs and molds very much like PBT," he notes. DuPont has already worked with a customer to run in in tools for electrical connectors, for example. The other material will be a new thermoplastic elastomer, a version of the company's Hytrel. It, too, will use Bio-PDO, though here it will be the basis for the polyol that forms the material's soft segment. Renewable content for this elastomer will range from 40 to 60 percent, with softer grades containing proportionally more of the renewable PDO. The new Hytrel, likewise, performs much like its non-renewable counterparts — and may even have a slight advantage in elastic recovery over the material's continuous use temperature range (-40 to 130C). Potential applications include automotive ductwork, CVJ boots and airbag components.
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