Thursday 6 September 2012

Natureworks increase Ingeo capacity, and add new grades

MINNETONKA, Minn., and WINTERTHUR, Switzerland, (September 5,
2012) — NatureWorks and Sulzer’s division Sulzer Chemtech announced today that
Sulzer has shipped proprietary production equipment to NatureWorks’ Blair, Neb.,
facility that will enable NatureWorks to increase 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.

With the new technology, NatureWorks will be introducing new highperformance
Ingeo resin grades in the injection molding and fibers arenas. New
injection molding grades Ingeo 3100HP and 3260HP are designed for use 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.

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
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 mesolactide.
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.

Several producers have addressed the functionality requested by the market
with what are described chemically as racemic lactides. “Compared to these, the
high-purity Ingeo M700 will be easier to process and an overall cost effective
alternative to racemic, L- and D-lactides in a host of industrial applications,” said Dr.
Manuel Natal, global segment leader for lactide derivatives at NatureWorks.
While the new equipment was being manufactured, Sulzer supported
NatureWorks to supply a targeted group of early adopters with demonstration
samples of these new resin grades and lactides to enable early-stage feasibility
work. Once the new equipment is commissioned in the first quarter of 2013,
NatureWorks will expand the availability of these developmental samples to include
a broader group of potential users.

Ingeo is a USDA BioPreferred® biopolymer that is made from renewable plant
material, not oil. Its environmental footprint, in terms of greenhouse gas emission
and energy consumption, is smaller than all commonly applied petrochemical-based
plastics. Over the past several years, NatureWorks has made significant investments
in initiatives that address and certify Ingeo sustainability from an agricultural
perspective through end-of-life scenarios.

Products made from Ingeo span multiple industries and categories, including
packaging, electronics, clothing, house wares, health and personal care, semidurable
products and the foodservice industry. View this special edition Ingeo
LookBook for a sampling of the latest Ingeo innovations. To learn more about Ingeo
and about NatureWorks, visit Follow NatureWorks on
Twitter (@natureworksllc) for the latest updates.

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