Futerro, a 50/50 joint venture established in September 2007 by Galactic and Total Petrochemicals, announces the start up of its demo unit in Escanaffles, Belgium, at the start of november. The purpose of the unit is to test a state-of-the-art technology for the production of PolyLactic Acid (PLA) bioplastics of renewable vegetable origin, developed by the two partners.
This clean, innovative and competitive technology, based on a research and development program launched at the creation of the joint venture, entails two main phases. The first is the preparation of the monomer – the lactide – and its purification from lactic acid, as part of the fermentation of sugar from beet. The second is the polymerisation of the monomer to produce biodegradable plastic granules of vegetable origin.
The demo unit, which has a capacity of 1,500 tonnes per year, will be used to test and improve the successive steps in this process during an internal evaluation, which is expected to last around six months. By that time, Futerro will be able to offer a full range of products made from lactic acid, including lactide, oligomers and PLA polymers for the packaging market, especially packaging, on the one hand, and sustainable applications, on the
Futerro, press release, 2009-11-10.