Welcome!

News Feed Item

NEC Reduces Production Energy for Cellulose-based Bioplastic Using Non-edible Plant Resource by 90%, Promoting Expanded Utilization

Tokyo, May 8, 2014 - (JCN Newswire) - Key Point

NEC has developed a new production technology which allows it to produce a high-functionality bioplastic using just one-tenth the energy (fewer CO2 emissions) that was previously required for processes using the non-edible plant resource of cellulose and natural oil as raw materials.

Outline

Research fellow, Dr. Masatoshi Iji and his research group at the Smart Energy Research Laboratories of NEC Corporation (NEC) have developed a new production technique, the "Two-stage Heterogeneous Synthesis Process," which can synthesize high-functionality bioplastic using the non-edible plant resource cellulose as its main component ("Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic," hereafter) while consuming just one-tenth the energy (fewer CO2 emissions) that was previously required.

This Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic developed independently by NEC is synthesized by chemically bonding cellulose(1), a primary component of materials such as wood and straw, with the oily component cardanol(2), which is derived from the agricultural by-product of cashew nut shells. As well as boasting excellent thermoplasticity(3), heat resistance(4) and water resistance(5), this bioplastic features a characteristically high plant content (approximately 70%), and there are plans for it to be commercialized in durable products such as electronic devices. The cardanol used in the process was chemically modified into a reactive structure (hereafter referred to as "modified cardanol") in collaboration with Tohoku Chemical Industries Ltd.

In the new Two-stage heterogeneous synthesis process developed by NEC, instead of dissolving the raw material cellulose into an organic solvent (homogenous system) as before, after being swollen into a gel-like substance with an organic solvent (heterogeneous system), it is bonded with the modified cardanol (long-chain component) and acetic acid (short-chain component) in two stages to synthesize a resin. This resin can be easily collected from a liquid solution through solid-liquid separation methods such as precipitation and filtration. As this process achieves the reaction conditions at almost ordinary pressure and medium temperature (100degC or less), and does not require a solvent for separation of the produced resin, as was required with the conventional homogeneous process, a significant reduction in the amount of solvent needed for synthesis (a roughly 90% decrease from the conventional process) is achieved. As a result, this Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic can be produced for about one tenth of the energy (CO2 emissions) when compared with conventional methods, thereby promising a drastic reduction in production costs when the material is mass produced in the future.

NEC aims to use this technology to start mass production of a Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic during fiscal 2016 and seeks to deploy the material in electronic devices and various other durable products.

Social Background to the Research

The world currently produces around 230 million tons of plastic annually (approximately 13 million tons in Japan), and as most of these plastics are produced by reacting petroleum-based raw materials under high-temperature, high-pressure conditions, the amount of CO2 generated in the plastic production process and the large amount of energy consumption required for production have become issues. In response, progress has been made in the development and use of bioplastics which use renewable plant resources capable of CO2 fixation as raw materials. Traditionally, most bioplastics have used starch derived from the likes of grains, potatoes or sugar as a raw material, but on account of concerns over future food sources, today there is interest in a switch to non-edible plant resources such as cellulose, a principal component of plant stems and wood materials.

History of the Research

The research and development work was conducted as a part of "Research and Development of Bioplastics Using Non-edible Polysaccharides" (Representative: Research fellow, Dr. Masatoshi Iji, NEC Smart Energy Research Laboratories) under the Advanced Low Carbon Technology Research and Development Program run by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). The research aims to develop an innovative bioplastic that achieves reduced CO2 emissions using non-edible plant-derived polysaccharides such as cellulose, which enjoys a stable supply.

In 2010, NEC bonded cellulose with the modified cardanol as a long-chain component along with a short-chain component, for the first time achieving a high plant content (approximately 70%) and excellent thermoplasticity, heat resistance and water resistance, an accomplishment that until then had not been possible with conventional cellulose-based bioplastics(7), and has since developed a Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic for durable products such as electronic devices.

With these latest advancements, NEC developed technologies for low-energy (low CO2 emission) production with the aim of achieving a practical Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic(6).

Research Details

NEC developed the Two-stage Heterogeneous Synthesis Process that enables the production of a Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic using approximately one-tenth the energy (CO2 emissions) when compared with conventional production methods.

This Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic was produced using methods similar to conventional cellulose-based bioplastics through a homogeneous process where cellulose was dissolved in an organic solvent and reacted with other ingredients to produce a resin. Large amounts of poor solvent(8) were needed to recover the resin that was produced in the solution, which gave rise to the issues of large production energy (CO2 emissions) and difficulties in reducing costs.

As an alternative to this homogeneous process, heterogeneous process can be carried out where the cellulose is not dissolved in an organic solvent. Instead, an organic solvent is used to swell the cellulose gel-like substance in order to produce a resin, and since the produced resin can be easily collected through precipitation and filtration when stirring is stopped after the reaction, a significant amount of energy savings can be realized. However, when proceeding with the production of a resin after the addition of a long-chain component, such as the modified cardanol, which is effective in improving the physical properties of the resin, precipitation separation becomes more difficult due to the increased affinity with the solvent. On the other hand, simply adding short-chain components like acetic acid improves precipitation separability but produces undesirable physical properties in the resin, such as insufficient thermoplasticity and water resistance. Due to these issues, NEC faced difficulties in striking a balance between the precipitation separability of the produced resin (the productivity of the cellulose-based bioplastic) and the physical properties of the resin.

The Newly Developed Production Process (Two-stage Heterogeneous Synthesis Process)

NEC developed a Two-stage Heterogeneous Synthesis Process that strikes a balance between the productivity and physical properties of its Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic.

In the first stage, pulverized cellulose is caused to moderately swell into a gel-like substance in an appropriate organic solvent, and then a long-chain component (modified cardanol) and a short-chain component (acetic acid) are added. At this stage, by restricting the addition of the long-chain and short-chain components to a limited amount, resinification is kept in an incomplete state, and the product (cellulose bonded with cardanol and acetic acid) is efficiently recovered through precipitation separation (+filtration under reduced pressure). The supernatant solution including unreacted material consisting of long-chain and short-chain components is reused by adding the insufficient components.

In the second stage, the product collected in the first stage (partially resinified substance) is caused to develop affinity in an appropriate organic solvent (partially-dissolved heterogeneous system) and a resin (cardanol and acetic acid-bonded cellulose: cardanol-bonded cellulose based resin) is made to form with the addition of sufficient short-chain components. As the unreacted short-chain components and the solvent are prone to volatility, through distillation at a relatively low temperature of 100degC or less, they can be separated from the produced resin, and the collected short-chain components and solvent are reused.

Accomplishments

The following two points represent the major accomplishments from the research.

1.A new production technique (Two-stage Heterogeneous Synthesis Process) that allows a Cellulose-based High-functionality Bioplastic (a cardanol-bonded cellulose-based resin) to be synthesized for approximately one-tenth of the energy used in the conventional production technique (homogeneous process) has been developed.

2.The cardanol-bonded cellulose-based resin produced through the process achieves thermoplasticity and water resistance that is of a similar level to the resin produced through the conventional process. Further, if a plant-based polyester resin and glass fibers as additives are used to the resin, the key characteristics of heat resistance and strength could be improved to the practical level for use in durable products such as electronic devices.

Future Development

Moving forward, NEC plans to complete techniques for mass production while expanding the current scale of production (laboratory level) based on the newly-developed production technique in stages, with the aim to commence mass production during fiscal 2016. To coincide with the start of full-scale mass production in the future, NEC also aims to reduce the production energy (CO2 emissions) for petroleum-based high-functionality plastics such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET, produced under high pressure + vacuum at more than 200degC) by around 50% (In terms of CO2 emissions: approximately 1.3kg per 1.0 kg resin). Moreover, there are also plans to expand usage of the plastic beyond electronic devices to other high-added value durable products and new products subject to growth in the future.

NEC also plans to reveal details of this research at the 63rd SPSJ Annual Meeting to be held at the Nagoya Congress Center from May 28 to May 30, 2014.

Explanation of Terms

(1) Cellulose
A polysaccharide which is a major component of plant stems and wood materials, and the most abundant plant resource on earth. While cellulose has a similar structure to starch, as it crystalizes into a solid, it does not dissolve in water or heat and is not suitable for human consumption.
(2) Cardanol
An oily ingredient extracted from the shells of cashew nuts when a continuous chain of 15 carbon atoms (long-chain hydrocarbon) and a benzene ring. NEC discovered that as its structure differs from regular natural oils, its addition to cellulose has the effect of improving unique physical properties. (details listed under(6))
(3) Thermoplasticity
This refers to the fluidity of a plastic when it is heated. If this property is insufficient, when the plastic is heated and poured into a mold, the molded item may not be completely filled, or the molded surface may suffer from reduced smoothness.
(4) Heat Resistance
This refers to the degree to which a plastic resists deformation when heated. While there are several ways to investigate how the properties of a plastic are altered in response to heat, for this research heat resistance was measured according to the glass-transition temperature (the temperature at which properties such as thermal expansion undergo significant change), which indicates resistance to deformation due to heating, and the deflection temperature under load (the temperature at which deformation occurs while under load). The higher these values are, the better the heat resistance of the material.

(5) Water Resistance
This refers to the degree to which a plastic resists the absorption of water while immersed (continuous temperature for 24 hours). The higher the absorption rate, the more the dimensions of a plastic compact will increase in a normal environment, and the more prone to deformation the product itself will be.

(6) August 25, 2010
"NEC Develops High Performance Bioplastic with a High Plant Ratio by Using Non-edible Plant Resources - Advanced bioplastic from plant stems and cashew nut shells"

http://www.nec.co.jp/press/en/1008/2501.html

(7) Conventional Cellulose-based Bioplastic
While a cellulose-based bioplastic where a short-chain component such as acetic acid was added to the non-edible raw material cellulose has previously been developed for practical use in regular products, the plant content rate was low (less than 40%, for instance) and its durability in terms of heat and water resistance was inadequate for use in durable products.

(8) Poor Solvent
To collect a resin dissolved in an organic solvent containing impurities such as unreacted material, a method where a separate solvent which does not dissolve the resin easily is added and allowed to deposit the resin to separate the impurities is commonly used, and this refers to the solvent added when doing so. As it is necessary to add many times more of the poor solvent than the amount of the initial solvent, after use, large amounts of energy are required to recover the poor solvent for its reuse by separating the initial solvent through means such as distillation.

About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation (TSE: 6701) is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. By providing a combination of products and solutions that cross utilize the company's experience and global resources, NEC's advanced technologies meet the complex and ever-changing needs of its customers. NEC brings more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation to empower people, businesses and society. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.



Source: NEC Corporation

Contact:
Seiichiro Toda         
NEC Corporation                     
[email protected]
+81-3-3798-6511

Joseph Jasper         
NEC Corporation                     
[email protected]
+81-3-3798-6511




Copyright 2014 JCN Newswire. All rights reserved. www.japancorp.net

More Stories By JCN Newswire

Copyright 2008 JCN Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of JCN Newswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of JCN Newswire. JCN Newswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Kubernetes, Docker and containers are changing the world, and how companies are deploying their software and running their infrastructure. With the shift in how applications are built and deployed, new challenges must be solved. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, will discuss the implications of containerized applications/infrastructures and their impact on the enterprise. In a real world example based on Kubernetes, he will show how to ...
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
As the world moves toward more DevOps and Microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The Microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. Serverless computing is revolutionizing computing. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Raghav...
Aspose.Total for .NET is the most complete package of all file format APIs for .NET as offered by Aspose. It empowers developers to create, edit, render, print and convert between a wide range of popular document formats within any .NET, C#, ASP.NET and VB.NET applications. Aspose compiles all .NET APIs on a daily basis to ensure that it contains the most up to date versions of each of Aspose .NET APIs. If a new .NET API or a new version of existing APIs is released during the subscription peri...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
StarNet Communications Corp has announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 PC X server. The new modules enable X-Win32 to safely tunnel the remote desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. Traditionally, users of PC X servers deploy the XDMCP protocol to display remote desktop environments such as the Gnome and KDE desktops on Linux servers and the CDE environment on Solaris Unix machines. XDMCP is used primarily on comp...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addres...
Fact: storage performance problems have only gotten more complicated, as applications not only have become largely virtualized, but also have moved to cloud-based infrastructures. Storage performance in virtualized environments isn’t just about IOPS anymore. Instead, you need to guarantee performance for individual VMs, helping applications maintain performance as the number of VMs continues to go up in real time. In his session at Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, Product and Marketing at Tintri, wil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration, and management solutions, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...