Succipack
  SUCCINIC ACID AND PBS

This page presents a summary of the key findings of the SUCCIPACK project.
You can also download the final report (PDF document, 30 pages in total).

Succinic acid and PBS production

The first goal was the investigation of the impacts of co-monomer type, chain branching, on basic polymer characteristics and on the associated packaging functionalities. At lab-scale, different productions of copolymerized PBS with low content of bio-based co-monomers have been tested in order to modulate PBS properties for trays and films applications.  

The second goal was the development of a new methodology for the synthesis of PBS. Solid state polymerization as a typical industrially applied process for step‐growth polymers has been chosen. The most probative result was obtained with SSP applied in the case of PBS as a MW build-up technique. The role of SSP technique as a crystallization/reorganization has been also proved regardless of MW variation.

Finally, the main objective was the production of a large quantity of adapted PBS. Synthetic routes developed and tested in laboratory were produced at manufacturing/pilot scale. Every test used melt polymerization techniques and bio-based succinic acid provided by BioAmber. Two technologies pathways were investigated: one which valorizes flexible route based on a first step oligomer production, another which keeps initial target of PBS production at MW>120 000 g/mol.

More details: PDF download

Environmental impacts

In order to evaluate the environmental performance of novel bio-based PBS according to different production scenario, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was used. Several screening LCAs have been conducted on Bio-based PBS.

Results show that the most critical aspect in the life cycle of bio-based PBS is the consumption of energy. The best results concerning synthetic routes for succinic acid production have been obtained with direct crystallisation.

The environmental performance of bio-based PBS was compared to established plastic granulates (e.g. PET, PA6, PLA) and conventional food packaging materials of interest for the project. The aim of the comparative analysis was to provide ecodesign feedback to the SUCCIPACK consortium in order to optimise the production process of the novel material.

Recommendations

In general, bio-based PBS can be an interesting material for packaging applications but its environmental performance should be further improved. The main aspect to improve the environmental performance of bio-based PBS is the synthesis of succinic acid; in particular, alternative should be developed.

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Processing of PBS

PBS grades adapted to various processes are available on the market, with viscosities (and subsequent Melt Flow Index) adapted to standard plastic processing methods. They are well adapted for all processes (extrusion of foil, thermoforming and injection moulding) but not for extrusion blowing and film production. These results present improvements which may be needed depending upon processes and targeted application:

  • For injection moulding: a quicker crystallization kinetics may be needed to decrease cooling time;
  • For thermoforming: a higher modulus at solid state and a better cohesion in the process condition may be needed;
  • For film blowing: bubble stability during film blowing operations has to be improved.

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Recommendations

Guidelines for a flexible transformation have been written by ACTIA to provide processing conditions of PBS packaging materials.
It includes:

  • Recommendations for material selection;
  • Recommendations for conditions of transformation;
  • Recommendations to manage or limit the material degradation by hydrolysis during storage steps.
Effect of PBS packaging on food shelf life

One of the aims of the SUCCIPACK project was the evaluation of the performances of the novel packaging materials in maintaining quality and safety of selected food products as no or little information is actually available in literature. This objective was achieved through systematic tests on several products representative of different food categories.

Overall, results collected showed that several PBS-materials produced in the frame of the SUCCIPACK project were characterised by the same efficiency in preserving food quality and safety as the reference ones and have good potential for packaging applications in the food industry.

Recommendations

Enhanced shelf-life was achieved by acting on PBS formulation or improving its barrier properties, thus indicating that further applications can be investigated and exploited in the future for other more or less perishable products like raw meat, minimally processed vegetables, fruit salads, bakery products.

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Recyclability of PBS

In the production of sustainable and cost-effective materials, both fossil-and bio-based plastics are involved. Thus, the growing utilization of bioplastics and bio-composites has given rise to the necessity of developing an effective recycling technology for bio-based materials.

Three recycling routes were investigated in the SUCCIPAK project: the remelting-restabilization approach, the SSP repairing approach, the oligomerization / monomerization approach.

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Next: Properties of PBS

 

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No.289196
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