Project to build potato-based PHA plant in Italy / Development of technologies to produce bioplastics and levulinic acid from sugar products
Italian biotechnology company Bio-on (Bologna; has teamed up with Pizzoli, the country’s largest operator in the potato sector, to build a PHA bioplastic production plant based on waste products from potato processing. The facility, which will be Italy’s first PHA plant, will have a 2,000 t/y capacity, expanding to 4,000 t/y in the future. Following a EUR 220,000 study phase, the project is expected to take two years, with production commencing in 2017.

Bio-on chairman Marco Astorri said the project will broaden the number of raw materials from which PHAs can be produced using Bio-on technology. “Our bioplastic can already be produced from sugar beet and sugarcane production waste," he added.

Bio-on also said it is strengthening its collaboration with Italian sugar beet producer Coprob to develop technology to transform sugar beet co-products into bioplastics. Under a new EUR 960,000 investment plan, the partners intend to broaden the field of application of the new technology, said Coprob chairman Claudio Gallerani. The agreement between the two companies arises from Bio-on's laboratory R&D and from the financial backing of Coprob, Italy's sole agent for PHA production from sugar beet.

“This new agreement enables our partner Coprob to extend its industrial technological availability and offer the market a broader range of bioplastic products," said Astorri. Bio-on and Coprob have been collaboration partners since 2008.

Last month, Bio-on announced a new collaboration with Italian agro-industrial group Eridania Sadam to develop a process for producing levulinic acid from by-products from the sugar industry. Levulinic acid, which is used in biodegradable plastics, is already available on the international market but in insufficient quantities, said Bio-on. It is currently obtained from industrial processes with an environmental impact that fails to meet European standards, it added.

Other potential applications for levulinic acid include plasticisers, fuels and fertilisers. "Levulinic acid is considered one of the 10 ‘building blocks’ of the green chemical industry of the future," said Astorri. Eridania Sadam, which focuses on the production, packaging and marketing of sugar, sweeteners and other foodstuffs, will invest EUR 1.8m in the project.
02.04.2015 [230884-0]
Published on 02.04.2015
Bio-On: Erste PHA-Anlage in ItalienGerman version of this article...

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