A very interesting new green technology at NPE2015 next week is an offshoot of the ethanol business that may make flexible PVC more environmentally friendly or improve the economics of injection molded polyolefins for automotive interiors.
The technology is being commercialized by a company called Genarex which was formed last year in Alpharetta, Georgia, as a spinoff from GreenShift, which has installed or licensed its patented corn oil extraction process to 36 ethanol facilities across the world since its founding in 2003.
“Genarex was formed after discovery of a way to collect and isolate nondigestbable proteins from various plant sources that had some real utility in the plastics space,” says Bob Montgomery, VP of sales and product development. “Originally we were focused on supplying an additive to mulch films, but since then we have really expanded our scope.”
Its first product was Bylox, which is temperature stable up to 220ºC. It’s expected to compete against starch as a biofiller for biodegradable, compostable films made from bioplastics. Last September, Genarex introduced Bylox HT, which has a processing window of 275ºC, allowing it to be processed with resins such as polyethylene, polypropylene, and all types of polyesters and polyurethanes.
In most cases, Bylox can be added up to 10-30 percent without sacrificing material performance and properties, according to Montgomery. List price of basic Bylox is in the 50 to 60 cents per pound range. Plastics it could potentially replace are considerably higher priced. That’s a particularly important argument when replacing bioplastics. When replacing PVC compounded with phthalate plasticizers, Bylox has a significant sustainability benefit. Montgomery says that Bylox has some inherent flexibility and the lowest color and odor profiles of any competing concentrated additive.
Material is being supplied now from pilot-scale plants. An American production plant with a capacity of around 40 million pounds is projected in 2016. No details are available on the technology that will be used by Genarex.
GreenShift’s business model is to license its technology for an ongoing royalty once it’s patented and commercialized. Its process taps into the back-end of existing dry mill corn ethanol plants to extract inedible crude corn oil that is not recovered and historically sold to distilleries at low prices. The corn oil is used to replace fossil fuels and to provide protein to livestock. The benefit to ethanol producers is between $0.05 and $0.25 per gallon of ethanol produced. Revenues in 2013 were $15.5 million.
Genarex will be in the South Hall in booth 17065 at NPE2015.