Rhein Chemie recognized for PLA additive development

By Erin Voegele | October 13, 2011

Mannheim, Germany-based specialty chemical company Rhein Chemie Rheinau GmbH has been presented with the 2011 Frost & Sullivan Global New Product Innovation Award in the Bioplastic Additives Market for its BioAdimide product. BioAdimide is an additive that has been specifically formulated for use with bioplastics. The product enhances the durability of polylactic acid (PLA) plastic, and makes the material more amenable to processing.

Rhein Chemie first announced the availability of its BioAdimide additive line of biobased polyesters in March. According to the company, BioAdimide additives are designed to improve the hydrolysis resistance of biobased polyester in general, and PLA specifically. The additive expands the range of applications PLA can be used for.

Two grades of BioAdimide are currently available. According to Rhein Chemie, BioAdimide 100 improves the hydrolytic stability up to seven times that of an unstabilized grade, which helps to increase the service life of the polymer. BioAdimide 500 XT also provides hydrolytic stability, but also acts as a chain extender that can increase the melt viscosity of an extruded PLA by 20 to 30 percent when compared to an unstabilized grade. This allows for more consistent and easier processing.

“By hydrolytically stabilizing PLA, you open up the possibility to make PLA a suitable candidate for durable markets previously out of reach,” said Don Stengel, group manager of Rhein Chemie’s Engineering Plastics Division in the U.S. in a statement announcing the additive’s availability. “By improving the melt viscosity of an extruded PLA, you make it more stable and easier to process in extrusion, blow-molding or filament applications.”

Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Deepan Kannan said that Rhein Chemie’s innovative BioAdimide product line offers industry the opportunity to increase the biobased content of finished plastics while eliminating some of the deficiencies of PLA. “The inherent deficiencies of bioplastics, such as poor processing characteristics and insufficient physical and mechanical properties, have limited the opportunities for their expansion into advanced application arenas,” said Kannan. “However, with the incorporation of BioAdimide as an additive in the bioplastic formulation, these challenges can be avoided, facilitating their use in high-end applications.”

Frost & Sullivan’s New Product Innovation Awards are presented to companies that have excelled in the development of an innovative product, have leveraged leading-edge technologies, create value-added features and benefits, increase customer return on investment and have the potential to achieve market penetration. “We are very pleased that Frost & Sullivan elected us…from many competitors,” said Fei Tan, head of global business development for Rhein Chemie’s Engineering Plastics Division. “They realized the innovation of the new product line BioAdimide, which enables the production of renewable, biobased polymers for durable applications with a lower environmental impact.” That's a real innovation for the third generation of bioplastics, emphasized Tan.