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Materials & Assembly

Cereplast Commercializes Algae-Based Bioplastic

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Elizabeth M
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Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Elizabeth M   1/21/2013 5:48:15 AM
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As related to your article on using avocado pits to create bio-fuel Ann, I find this again a step in the right direction as companies continue to explore new and more natural ways to create plastic. That Cereplast has been working on using algae to create bioplastic since 2008 shows how complex a problem it is. But as great inventions don't usually happen overnight, I think it's a worthwhile one to try to solve, as the potential for use in place of petroleum-based polymers is enormous.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Ann R. Thryft   1/22/2013 11:54:20 AM
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Thanks, Elizabeth. Cereplast is one of the top bioplastic makers by volume--I suspect they wouldn't do this without a great deal of preparatory research, and that's also what the four-year R&D phase implies.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Elizabeth M   1/22/2013 1:22:36 PM
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You seem to really know a lot about this, Ann...it's a bit of a new area for me. Besides algae and avocado pits, what are some of the other natural elements being used in bioplastic? Does corn play a role, as it does in biofuel? Excuse my ignorance, but it's really quite an area of interest for me. Thanks!

CLMcDade
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reliable source
CLMcDade   1/22/2013 3:48:41 PM
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Hi Ann,

Thanks for keeping a finger on the pulse of the alternative materials market.  It makes for great reading and increases awareness.

As I had mentioned in my comments on one of your earlier columns, finding a repeatable, reliable and large enough source for the feedstock makes or breaks this sort of system.  It's great that Cereplast was able to use the waste stream from a what sounds like a mature company in another industry.  As long as that product flourishes, Cereplast won't have to worry about raw materials.

And as their raw material is another company's waste, it is a win for the environment.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Ann R. Thryft   1/22/2013 4:12:26 PM
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Elizabeth, thanks for asking! No sarcasm--I'm happy to share. I find this subject absolutely fascinating. I suggest you check out the links at the end of the story: we've published several posts on a wide variety of feedstocks.

Ann R. Thryft
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Ann R. Thryft   1/22/2013 4:24:12 PM
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Thanks, Clint. Glad you're enjoying our coverage of this subject. I've been looking more toward bioplastic and biofuel efforts that use feedstocks that are non-food, don't use potential agricultural land, and preferably use waste that would otherwise be contributing to CO2 levels.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Dave Palmer   1/22/2013 7:35:24 PM
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Ann, thanks for posting this.  The mechanical properties of the algae-based polypropylene don't seem to be quite as good as regular polypropylene.  A general-purpose, petroleum-derived grade would have a tensile strength around 4900 psi, compared to 3460 psi for Cereplast's algae-derived grade.  The ductility is also quite low (3.3%, according to Cereplast, compared to 12% for a petroleum-based grade).  That being said, it may be good enough for many applications.  It would be interesting to see what applications Cereplast's customers are considering for this material.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2013 11:43:58 AM
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Elizabeth, corn is not ideal as a feedstock here, for the same reasons it isn't in biofuels. And, BTW, many of these feedstocks can be used for either biofuel or bioplastic, just like petroleum.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Elizabeth M   1/23/2013 12:13:44 PM
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Thanks for clarifying that, Ann. Now that I think of it, of course it makes sense that the same products can be used for fuel or bioplastic, but I wasn't sure if certain properties of the biomaterial might be different and so not conducive to both processes.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Another interesting bio-plastic effort
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2013 1:21:00 PM
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Dave, as we said in the article, Cereplast is recommending 109D for thin-walled IM applications, and, as a resin in the company's Sustainables line, it's targeted at automotive, consumer electronics, and packaging uses. It's clearly not aimed at the high end of durables. I agree, it will be interesting to see what specific objects it's used for.

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