New molecules developed by Segetis, in Minnesota based on esters of levulinic acid made from using bio based hydroxyl compounds and corn cobs are known as levulinic ketals. These can be used to produce a series of products such as plasticizers, polyols for polyurethane foams and solvents. Segetis are constructing a new toll manufacturing plant for their new ketals chemistry in the Midwest and the construction of which was expected to be completed by the end of 2011. Products entering the market would start with solvents. While polyols is expected to be the last to enter in the market because of significant functional testing required. At present China is the supplier of the levulinic acid from the company but later it may use residue of wood as a feedstock.
The potential outcome by the development of bio based levulinic acid could be the replacement of the phthalate plasticizers which is used to make Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is the most widely produce plastic and other plastics flexible. The company is also working directly to replace the phthalate which concerns about exposure to children. The major advantages of ketal monomers are that they attach to the PVC molecule firmly and are of natural origins.
Major opportunity for the market can be obtain from the manufacture of polyols which combines with iscoyanates to produce polyurethane. The polyols which are made from bio based levulinic acid will have rigidity which in turn will help to reduce the level of iscoyanates while obtaining polyurethane having similar properties and the monomers will play the role of the performer. The cost of polyols produce by the company will be same as made from petroleum resources. But it is expected that it will help to improve the economics for formulators due to less use of iscoyanates.
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