A Bavarian company in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry is developing a process for manufacturing a plastic from a sustainable raw material.
Terms of reference
A Bavarian company in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry is developing a process for manufacturing a plastic from a sustainable raw material. This process is to enable mineral-based plastics such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) to be substituted. No commercial process for this exists at present. The new process will use a monomer based on natural raw materials in order to manufacture a bio-based polymer for the packaging industry. The new plastic is fully reusable and can be recycled. The energy-efficient manufacturing process will also run without using any chemical substances that are harmful to the environment. The potential savings are increased still further with an improved yield from the raw material and a more efficient process. The process is to be developed on an experimental scale, tested and validated at the company's Bavarian plant. Alongside the economic efficiency of the process, the development and optimisation of the laboratory process in the pilot plant will achieve enormous energy savings thanks to optimised cycle times (20 minutes instead of the previous 7 hours). The project has been budgeted to cost €6.4 million. These costs are necessary in order to develop the 5-stage manufacturing process and validate it using a demonstration plant. The company is not an SME as defined by the European Union.
Following intensive workshops with the responsible engineers and a subsequent analysis phase, CMP created a comprehensive proposal. The outline focused on the efficient use of resources, the efficiency of the process and the sustainability of the product. An application was made under the Bavarian energy research programme. In view of the very high projected costs, a continuous financing concept providing for financing by an equity fund alongside the aid from the Free State was developed. This entailed:
- Verification of the innovation approaches
- The technical and economic risks associated with the project
- The prospects of economic success from the product
- An application for a subsidy in light of the efficient use of resources and the sustainability of the product
- Negotiations with the equity fund for financing the company’s own share
Thanks to its innovation, the necessary development was successfully subsidised by the Bavarian energy research programme of the Free State as a demonstration project in the energy efficiency sector. The funding ratio was 50%. A leading equity fund was persuaded to provide the equity ratio.
This development will enable the company to expand its portfolio and, at the same time, be the first manufacturer in the world able to produce a bio-based polymer for the packaging industry on an economic scale. Material savings of up to 20% compared with conventional polymers can be achieved further down the processing line. The new polymer also reduces the consumption of non-renewable energy in further processing by approx. 47% and CO2 emissions by around 50%.