Polypropylene from sugar

Novozymes and partners are developing technologies to convert sugar into green polypropylene, the second most widely used thermoplastic.

Polypropylene from sugar

Polypropylene is a plastic used in a wide range of everyday products ranging from food containers, drinking straws and water bottles to washing machines and furniture. It is the second most widely used thermoplastic (after polyethylene) with a global consumption in 2008 of approximately 44 million tons. Today polypropylene is primarily derived from oil, but Novozymes and partners are developing a new technology to convert sugar into polypropylene.

Green polypropylene

In all physical respects, polypropylene made from sugar is identical to polypropylene made from oil: same chemical composition, same flexibility, and same durability. The important difference is that one originates from renewable sugarcane while the other comes from oil – a resource that is destined to run out one day. In addition, because the price of oil fluctuates, the price of polypropylene fluctuates with it. Using sugar instead of oil to make polypropylene means more stable prices.

Using Novozymes’ expertise to produce polypropylene

The process developed by Novozymes to convert sugar cane to polypropylene requires microbial fermentation. Novozymes has a strong Metabolic Engineering research group set up to develop microorganisms that enable production of valuable chemicals from fermentable sugars. In many applications these chemicals are converted into everyday products such as polypropylene.

Become a partner

We believe that partnerships are the best way to realize the promising potential of the future biochemicals business – building on complementary competences, sharing risks and benefits. We are interested in partnering with established chemical companies with production and commercialization capabilities.

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