NatureWorks Expands Bio–Polymer Production with Process Equipment from Sulzer
“Sulzer has a wide range of innovative technologies applicable for lactide purification. In support of NatureWorks' team, we optimized one of these technologies with the goal to expand the Ingeo product portfolio. In this process, additional work was done in our test center with two primary benefits in focus – increased capacity and product extension,” Peter Moritz, head of Sulzer Process Technology, said. “The project development, including the design and delivery of our proprietary equipment, provided an exciting professional and technical opportunity for us to show our capabilities for this type of application.”
New Bio–Based Polymer Grades
With the new technology, NatureWorks will be introducing new high-performance Ingeo resin grades in the injection molding and fibers arenas. New injection molding grades Ingeo 3100HP and 3260HP are designed to be used in medium and high flow nucleated formulations to provide an excellent balance of mechanical and thermal properties while delivering up to 75 percent cycle time savings over formulations based on current Ingeo grades. Heat distortion temperatures (@ 66 psig) are expected to be 15°C higher than what is achievable today.
Improved Properties for New Bio–Polymer Fibers
Fibers and nonwoven products made from the new Ingeo grades 6260D and 6100D will have reduced shrinkage and better dimensional stability. These improved features are expected to enable Ingeo use across a broader range of fiber and nonwoven applications and provide larger processing windows in fiber spinning and downstream conversion processes. NatureWorks also will assess new market and application opportunities for the technology in other processes, including thermoforming, film extrusion, blow molding, and profile extrusion.
New Lactide – A World Novelty
NatureWorks will be the world’s first and only company to offer commercial quantities of a high-purity, polymer-grade lactide rich in the stereoisomer meso-lactide. Identified as Ingeo M700 lactide, this unique new commercial material will be used as an intermediate for copolymers, amorphous resins, grafted substrates, resin additives/modifiers, adhesives, coatings, elastomers, surfactants, thermosets, and solvents.