Biome Technologies plc (LON:BIOM) has announced that its Bioplastics division (www.biomebioplastics.com) has been awarded £282,000 in funding from Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, to support the scale-up of novel compostable biopolymers for the flexible packaging and coatings industries in collaboration with Thomas Swan (www.thomas-swan.co.uk) and the University of Nottingham. The project has a total investment of £474,000 and is expected to last 18 months.
Over the last nine years, Biome has undertaken considerable research and development work on a range of biodegradable polymers, based on bio-based inputs. This work has involved seven universities and around 30 leading scientists and engineers. All the resultant polymers are subject to patent protection or patent application. Before this new Innovate UK grant, these novel polymers have only been scaled successfully from laboratory test-tube to small kilogram quantities on pilot plant equipment.
The new funding for this project will scale up one of these promising polymers to quantities of hundreds of kilograms on Thomas Swan’s industrial-scale assets. This selected polymer is based on furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA), an important new bio-based chemical. Such production will allow the performance and production process of this polymer to be evaluated at a commercially relevant scale.
Thomas Swan is a leading independent manufacturer of performance and fine chemicals with offices in the United States and China and a global network of distributors. The company manufactures over 100 products, from kilogram to multi-tonne quantities, and offers an experienced and flexible custom manufacturing service. Thomas Swan has collaborated with Biome’s development for the last few years and is well-placed to support this specific project and ultimately manufacture Biome’s novel FDCA based polymers at a commercial scale.
The University of Nottingham has worked with Biome for the past five years. Its contribution to this project will be led by Derek Irvine, Professor of Materials Chemistry at the institution’s Faculty of Engineering. His team will support the technology transfer from the laboratory to Thomas Swan and work on further enhancements to the FDCA-derived polymer.
This work forms part of Biome’s approach to providing highly functional added-value products to the market. It is envisaged that products derived from this collaboration will be commercialised after project completion.
Paul Mines, Biome Technologies’ Chief Executive, commented:
“After nine years of significant work by Biome’s scientists, engineers and supporting partners, it is great to be taking a substantial step towards industrialisation in bringing these FDCA-based polymers to the market. Thomas Swan and the University of Nottingham are great partners to support us on our journey to commercialise this new generation of bio-based and compostable polymers.”
Harry Swan, Thomas Swan’s Chief Executive and Owner, added:
“This is an excellent project that will see the acceleration of an important new sustainable product for Biome. It also sits well with Thomas Swan’s own mission to inspire and deliver sustainable chemistry. Innovate UK grants are not easy to secure which lends great credibility to the technology and its potential. I look forward to seeing this exciting project progress with our partners, Biome and the University of Nottingham.”