Teknor Apex Company has signed a licensing agreement with Cerestech Inc. on a unique method for blending relatively low-cost thermoplastic starch (TPS) with synthetic polymers or other bioplastics while retaining high levels of key performance properties. The agreement grants Teknor Apex exclusive worldwide rights to manufacture and market products based on Cerestech's patented technology and to sub-license use of the blending process. The technology involves preparing TPS from starch granules and then combining it as a masterbatch with bioplastics like polylactic acid (PLA) or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), or with petrochemical-based polymers such as polyethylene.
The Cerestech process is based on patented technology developed by Dr. Basil Favis, who founded Cerestech Inc. as a spinoff company from the École Polytechnique de Montréal. The technology makes it possible to combine other polymers with TPS from vegetable sources like corn, wheat, or potato while achieving better performance properties than are typical for conventional starch-containing blends. The Cerestech technology yields blends that, even at high starch loadings, retain a substantial portion of the mechanical properties of the bioplastic or synthetic base polymers. They exhibit lower levels of sensitivity to moisture than many other starch-containing plastics, are translucent, printable, and sealable, and can be formulated for biodegradable applications. Teknor Apex will use the technology to produce both masterbatches and ready-to-process compounds and anticipates extruded and injection molded applications in packaging, automotive, trash bag, and other markets. The company is installing a pilot plant at its world headquarters in Pawtucket, RI, U.S.A. Commercial production is anticipated to begin in Pawtucket in 2009.