University Utrecht: Plastics made without petroleum
It is now possible to produce plastics without the use of petroleum, thanks to a new type of catalyst enabling efficient conversion to key components of various products including plastics, medicines and paint. The catalyst, which consists of tiny iron spheres, was developed by chemists at University Utrecht. According to Prof Krijn de Jong, “The products are exactly the same, only they are made of pruning waste instead of petroleum.”
The Utrecht researchers will continue to develop the catalyst with the help of Dow Benelux. Hopefully, the first products made with this technology will be launched within the next few years. “In light of the imminent oil shortage, using sustainable raw materials is an extremely attractive option for industry,” says De Jong. “One major advantage of the method is that the raw materials are sustainable, but do not compete with the food supply, because they consist of wood-like biomass, such as branches, plant stalks and pruning waste” (News Item University Utrecht, 17 February 2012).