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Innovation Prize for “Biomaterial of the Year 2013”

News International-French

6 May 2013

Innovation Prize for Biomaterial of the Year 2013 awarded to PHA producer Newlight Technologies (USA) at the Cologne International Conference 2013 on Industrial Biotechnology and Bio-based Plastics & Composites.

With 180 participants (60% up on 2012) from 23 countries (up 50%), this year’s conference further established it as a major industry meeting-place and visitors both grew in number and became more international.

This year’s Innovation Prizes were awarded to Newlight Technologies (USA), fischerwerke (Germany), and 4e solutions – ajaa! & TECNARO (Germany).

The bio-based economy is constantly gaining in importance, and the bio-based materials sector is playing a major role in this growth. The industry’s foundations are the so-called “building blocks” produced from biomass through biotechnological processes. They are used to make a large range of polymers, plastics and composites (when combined with natural fibres) that cover the entire spectrum of bio-based materials.

During the industry sessions on the first and second day, companies such as Clariant Produkte, BASF, DuPont, Bayer MaterialScience, NatureWorks, Johann Borgers and FlexForm Technologies presented their plans for biorefineries, new bio-based polymers and natural-fibre-reinforced composites.

This was the first time that the conference had been extended to a third, scientific day, which nova-Institute organised with the collaboration of Professor Dr Jörg Müssig from Bremen University of Applied Science’s Bionics Innovation Centre. The organisers had succeeded in bringing together 13 renowned speakers from the USA and Germany.

One section was dedicated to “Natural Fibres and Bio-based Composites”, which included extremely interesting and innovative presentations by Professor Anil Netravali (Cornell University, USA), Dr Gunnar Engelmann (Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research, Germany), Professor Dr Jonathan Y. Chen (University of Texas, USA) and Professor Dr Danny Akin (Light Light Solutions, USA).

Winners of the Innovation Prize for “Biomaterial of the Year 2013”:
Newlight Technologies (USA), fischerwerke (Germany) and 4e solutions – ajaa! & TECNARO (Germany)

There was great interest in the awards ceremony for the Innovation Prize for “Biomaterial of the Year 2013” and conference participants voted for the winners. This prize is awarded to new practical applications of bio-based materials. Around 20 companies from the USA and Germany entered the competition.

  • 1st prize:  Newlight Technologies (USA) – Airflex (AirCarbon resins)

First prize, Biomaterial of the Year 2013, was awarded to Newlight Technologies for its Airflex (AirCarbon) resins. CEO Mark Herrema presented a new kind of high-yield technology chain to produce thermoplastics (PHAs) from greenhouse gases (such as CO2 and methane). Newlight is using the carbon capture and polymerization technology it has developed and patented to match the performance of a wide range of oil-based plastics while out-competing them on price.
If Newlight’s technical innovation can be put to wide use, then CO2-based PHAs are on the brink of an unexpected and wholly novel breakthrough, according to experts at the conference. Company representatives are already showing considerable interest in Newlight's Airflex (AirCarbon) materials.

  • 2nd prize: fischerwerke (Germany) - bio-PA universal UX green plug

Second prize at the Biomaterial Innovation Awards went to fischerwerke for its plugs made from renewable materials. Dr Joachim Schätzle, Director of Research and Technology Transfer, presented the bio-PA universal UX green plug – the first plug made from renewable raw materials. The new plug contains bio-based polyamide from castor oil and has equal or even better performance in terms of load, temperature resistance, long-term behaviour and mechanical properties to the standard universal UX plug.
Participants in the conference were impressed by this new bio-based and bio-inspired approach to a mass product such as a plug.

  • 3rd prize: 4e solutions & TECNARO (Germany) - Sustainable household articles from bioplastics

Newcomer ajaa! won over the audience at the conference and was awarded third place in the Innovation Prize. Ajaa! is the first manufacturer to offer food storage containers that are manufactured from a special biomaterial made of 100% renewable resources (sugar), supplemented by minerals and natural waxes, without any crude oil or plasticizers. The product can also be entirely recycled. The materials used are sourced locally in southern Germany and are also processed in Germany to limit transport and keep CO2 emissions low.

The theme of the next 7th International Conference on Bio-based Materials ("Biowerkstoff-Kongress"), which will be held on 8–10 April 2014 at the Maternushaus in Cologne, will be “Highlights from Europe”.

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