Monday, 13 February 2017

Biobutanediol: A More Eco-friendly Component for Plastics

1,4 Butanediol (BD or BDO) is a very versatile and extensively used organic compound. It is mostly used as a reaction intermediate for an array of products like cosmetics, pesticides, medicines, fibers, and others. 

What is Butanediol?

BDO is an organic compound with the formula HOCH2CH2CH2CH2OH. It is a viscous, odorless, colorless liquid. The other terms for this compound are BD (1,4-BDO), 1,4 Butylene glycol, or Butane-1,4-diol. BDO derivatives include Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL), Tetrahydrofuran (THF), Polyurethane (PU), Polytetramethylene Ether Glycol (PTMEG), and Polybutylene Terephthalate (PBT). These chemicals are used in rust removers, hardeners, engineering plastics, and fibers.

THF is utilized in the manufacture of spandex; a synthetic fiber used mainly in sportswear. Furthermore, BDO is used to produce polyurethanes. These find use in areas like construction & buildings, transportation, and footwear among others. Herbicides and foundry resins are the end-use applications of PBT. Butanediol is produced through industrial processes, like the Davy and Arco process. 

Novamont Takes a Step Toward Environmental Sustainability

The BDO market is witnessing a shift toward biobased products. Italian-based bioplastic producer, Novamont, is all set to begin the production of biobutanediol. Novamont has established the world’s first ever plant to make a renewable chemical compound from sugar & water instead of fossil fuels. The facility is equipped with technology that helps produce biobutanediol from the fermentation of sugar. 

The conversion of sugar to butanediol takes a couple of days. The process starts with the preparation of an inoculum. Frozen micro-organisms are cultured under controlled temperatures. The inoculum is then allowed to ferment. The biobutanediol thus produced will primarily be used to make shopping bags and bags for fruits & vegetables. 

Furthermore, Novamont would utilize this biobutanediol for the 4th-generation Mater-Bi resins used for making eco-friendly coffee capsules & mulch films. The company estimates that such an initiative could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 56%.

Market Overview

According to Grand View Research, Inc., the global BDO demand is estimated to reach nearly 3,030 kilo tons by 2024. BDO is extensively used to produce THF, GBL, polyurethanes, and PBT among others. It is also used in glue removers and solvents & cleaners. In addition, this chemical finds use in artificial leather, cosmetics, medicines, pesticides, and plasticizers among.

Competitive Insights

Some key competitors in the BDO market are BASF, Genomatica, Myriant, and Dairen Chemicals. Dairen Chemicals and BASF together dominated the BDO with a market share of 38% in 2013. BASF held 24% shares in the global market during the same year.

In-depth report on 1,4-Butanediol (BDO) Market by Grand View Research:

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