Bio–Polymer NatureWorks Expands Bio–Polymer Production with Process Equipment from Sulzer

Editor: Dominik Stephan

NatureWork overhauls its bio–polymers prododuction: New production technology will increase capacity at the NatureWorks' Blair, Nebraska, facility to 150,000 metric tonnes per annum, making new performance grades available in the second quarter 2013.

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Sulzer proprietary equipment for lactide purification.
Sulzer proprietary equipment for lactide purification.
(Picture: Sulzer)

Minnetonka, Minneapolis/USA and, Winterthur/Switzerland – NatureWorks and Sulzer's division Sulzer Chemtech announced today that Sulzer has shipped proprietary production equipment to NatureWorks’ Blair, Nebraska, facility that will enable NatureWorks to increase the production of Ingeo biopolymer and produce new, high-performance resins and lactides.

Nameplate Ingeo production capacity at Blair will rise from 140,000 to 150,000 metric tonnes per annum. Commissioning of the installed new equipment is expected in the first quarter of 2013 with capacity increases and new products becoming available in the second quarter.

Results of More than A Year of Cooperation

NatureWorks and Sulzer have been working on this capital improvement project for more than a year: Each company has contributed to the project, with NatureWorks bringing its operational experience and intellectual property in lactides processing, and Sulzer bringing its proprietary equipment and engineering design expertise in this field.

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Combing Proprietary Technologies for Biopolymer Project

NatureWorks owns patents to the new process, to which Sulzer has exclusive sublicensing rights worldwide. “NatureWorks has an extensive patent portfolio that includes intellectual property around lactides, polymer, and product applications” explained Bill Suehr, NatureWorks' chief operating officer. “This project has been a natural marriage of each company’s assets, focused on a subset of NatureWorks' patented process technology to bring both new capacity and new products to the market”.