New Castor Oil Based Green Plasticizer

Scientists from India performed esterification of furfuryl alcohol and castor oil fatty acid at 3:1 molar ratio, by immobilized Candida antarctica Lipase B in a solvent free system.castor-oil-800067 A maximum yield of ester was obtained. Performance of the FA-COFA ester plasticized Ethyl Cellulose (EC) films were evaluated by certain characteristic studies.

Results showed that the furfuryl alcohol-castor oil fatty acid ester with significant plasticizing property at a certain concentration could act as a substitute for traditional plasticizer dibutyl phthalate.


New Castor Oil Segmented Thermoplastic Polyurethane with Controlled Mechanical Properties

Researchers from Finland have found a method to produce novel castor oil segmented thermoplastic polyurethanes which have controlled mechanical properties.

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is an elastomer that is fully thermoplastic. Like all thermoplastic elastomers, TPU is elastic and melt-processable. TPU is a linear segmented block copolymer composed of hard and soft segments. The hard segment can be either aromatic or aliphatic. The soft segment can either be a polyether or polyester type, depending on the application.thermoplastic polyurethane

The new study shows that it is possible to produce thermoplastic polyurethanes using castor oil via polyaddition approach where the formation of prepolymers needs to be carried out with the addition of small amount of castor oil and excess of diisocyanate in the very first step. This is followed by the addition of the other polyols and finally a low molecular weight chain extender.

Results showed that the synthesized polyurethanes exhibited good biocompatibility and high transparency.


Applications of Castor oil in Specialty Chemicals and Biofuels Market

Castor Oil for Specialty Chemicals

Specialty chemicals market is a $700 billion + market worldwide, with high profit margins.

Given castor oil unique versatility, there could be a number of niche applications within specialty chemicals, other than the ones already exploited.

More “entrepreneurial” research needs to be undertaken in this direction.

Castor Oil for Biofuels

While there has been a lot of debate about the use of castor oil for biodiesel, we feel that it is not a viable route. Sure, technically castor oil might be suitable to make biodiesel, except perhaps for its high kinematic viscosity, which could even be taken care of during transesterification.

The more important dimensions are the economics and volumes which make castor oil quite unattractive as a feedstock for biodiesel:

  • Economics – Price of biodiesel needs to be in the range $900-$1000 per ton; price of castor oil alone is $1300/T.
  • Volumes – World produces about 20 million T of biodiesel every year; world castor oil production is less than 1 million T!

In fact, we have been generous on the price aspect. If the current downtrend in crude prices continues, biodiesel might have to sell at less than $700 per T. We dont see how castor oil could support such a price.

On volumes, castor is produced in such small quantities, it really is going to make little difference overall to the biodiesel market.

And when especially the same castor oil oil could be sold at a much higher price to end users who would be willing to pay a much higher price for the oil or the derivative, we do not see how castor oil biodiesel could work out on any sizable scale.

Castor Oil Polyurethane Biopolymer – An Emerging Application of Castor Oil – Part I

Biopolymers are an emerging application of castor oil and its derivatives. These biopolymers include castor based polyamides and castor based polyurethanes. (See also Castor Oil Biopolymers – Part II)

Castor Oil Polyurethane

Castor oil is increasingly finding application in the manufacture of polyurethane foams. The polyurethane is produced from polyols based on castor oil.

The world polyurethane market size is over $50 billion.

Features of Castor Oil Based Polyurethane:

Castor oil polyurethane is

  • Superior to PPG (Polypropylene Glycol) or polyester in water and hydrolysis resistance
  • Superior to PPG or polyester in insulation
  • Lower viscosity than polybutadiene or polyester
  • A challenging issue of polyurethane flooring is heat and humidity. The urethane produced from castor oil is stable under high heat and humidity.

Castor Oil Polyamide Biopolymer – An Emerging Application of Castor Oil – Part II

Biopolymers are an emerging application of castor oil and its derivatives. These biopolymers include castor based polyamides and castor based polyurethanes. (see also: Castor Oil Polyamide Biopolymer – Part I)

The world polyamide market size is over $25 billion.

Some prominent companies working on castor based polyamides and engineering plastics are:

Company Polyamide
Arkema 6,11
BASF 6,10
Du Pont 6,10; 10,10
DSM 4,10
EMS 6,10; 10,10; 10T (PPA)
Evonik 6,10

Green and Eco Chemicals – A $100+ Billion Dollar Opportunity?

The global chemicals market is worth about $4 trillion and the commodity chemicals is about 80% of this. That leaves 20% for non-commodity, specialty chemicals. (For those looking for a definition and explanation for specialty chemicals do have a look at this brief report) It is the specialty chemicals sector, which according to estimates is a $800 billion + market worldwide.  But what is really exciting is that there is a significant pressure on this sector to go green. Whether it is about specialty chemicals for construction, or for cosmetics, there is a significant movement towards making the supply chain, especially the raw materials, as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.

The range for industrial specialty chemicals is quite wide, with some prominent sectors given below:

Agri   chemicals Polymers & resins
Construction chemicals Surfactants
Lubricants Industry specific chem – electronic, textile, oilfield…
Additives – Stabilizers, Plasticizers, Lubricant   Additives, Flame Retardants, Anti-oxidants, Corrosion   Inhibitors, Biocides, Emusifiers & Surfactants Color   Pigments & Dyes, Coatings

Low Hanging OpportunitiesConsumer end user segments – In the short term, significant demand for eco-friendly consumer chemicals can be seen for the following sectors, and these will hence be the segments that see early growth:

  • Eco cosmetics – deodorants, perfumes, cosmetics
  • Eco detergents and Eco cleaning products
  • Food ingredients and additives
  • Consumer packaging – especially bioplastics

Companies in this Sector include Daimler, a leading supplier of green chemicals, q33offers Eco-Green Carpet Care & Upholstery Cleaner, a fast-acting, all-natural, cleaning formula that penetrates stains in carpets and upholstery using cutting edge green chemistry.

Companies such as Nike have   designed and implemented a more environmentally-friendly rubber for its footwear created with benign accelerators, vegetable oils, and modified processing chemicals and methods without compromising performance. Partnerships with manufacturers in their supply chain allowed Nike to address process changes required by the new rubber formula collaboratively.

Excerpts above have been adapted from EAI ( If you are an entrepreneur/company interested in exploring opportunities in this emerging segment, please follow this link –



Bioplastics in the Automotive Market

The recent high cost of petro-based feedstock and polymers coupled with advances in new technologies like biotechnology, nanotechnology, green chemistry and material science have set the pace rolling for the revival of bio-based materials.Now, automotive companies are making a major effort to reintroduce plant-based plastics as a way of reducing their reliance on foreign oil and improving their environmental footprint.

Lightweighting’ is a hot topic for the automotive industry and the main reason why plastics have continuously been used to substitute heavier materials such as metals. Beyond the benefits of reduced weight, the future lies in choosing the most resource efficient plastics, i.e. bioplastics. Besides these evident advantages, e.g. biobased performance polymers (biobased polyesters/biobased polyamides) feature all the performance criteria important to high quality car components.

Prominent companies  and their efforts in bioplastic automotive car parts manufacturing

  • A front-runner in adopting bioplastics is Japanese car manufacturer Toyota which uses bioplastics such as biobased polyesters, biobased PET, and PLA-blends in its production process
  • Italian manufacturer Fiat is another major player in the automotive industry relying on biobased plastics. Fiat used castor oil-derived long chain polyamides to replace their fossil based equivalent in more than one million vehicles; the company plans to further increase this number.
  • Faurecia and Mitsubishi Chemical have announced a joint programme for developing a bioplastic based on biobased PBS that can be used in mass-production for automotive interior parts, such as door panels, trim and strip, structural instrument panels, air ducts, door panel and console inserts.
  • In 2011, BASF and Ford teamed up to develop a sustainable, plant-sourced castor oil-based foam product for the 2012 Ford Focus instrument panel


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Royal DSM’s Develops Crankshaft Cover from Castor Polyamides

In September 2013, Royal DSM, together with its automotive component specialist partner KACO, has developed a lightweight multi-functional crankshaft cover in EcoPaXX, DSM’s bio-based polyamide 410, for the latest generation of diesel engines developed by the Volkswagen Group. EcoPaXX, a bio-based, high-performance long-chain polyamide, is made mainly from tropical castor beans.

This EcoPaXX cover incorporates integral seals in PTFE and liquid silicon rubber (LSR), as well as various metal inserts. It will be used on Volkswagen’s new MDB modular diesel engine platform, implemented across its Audi, Seat, Škoda and VW brands.

Compared with covers made in aluminum, system costs for the EcoPaXX cover are considerably lower, due in part to the use of an integrated, fully automated production cell for the component at KACO. Weight has been reduced considerably too, since the EcoPaXX grade is 45% less dense than aluminum.

The development represents a step forward in terms of sustainability, from material production to the vehicle on the road. DSM’s EcoPaXX polyamide 410 is 70% derived from renewable resources, and the polymer is certified 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate.

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Bio-Polyamides: Where Do They Come From?

Article retrieved from

Bio-polyamides have been available commercially since the first half of the 20thCentury, when Rilsan®11 was first introduced. Since then, other partly or fully bio-sourced polyamides have been commercialized for a range of applications. This blog post explains how organic chemistry and catalysis can be critical to converting renewable raw materials into technologically valuable polymers.

Both 11-aminoundecanoic acid and sebacic acid are products from chemical conversion of ricinoleic acid, the major fatty acid component of castor oil.Castor oil is hydrolyzed to give ricinoleic acid and glycerol, which are separated. High temperature treatment of the methyl ester of ricinoleic acid produces 11-undecanelic acid and heptanal4. Bromination of the double bond of 11-undecalenic acid followed by reaction with ammonia gives 11-aminoundecanoic acid, the monomer used to make PA 11 (Rilsan® 11).

Sebacic acid is produced commercially by “fusing” ricinoleic acid with alkali (reacting at high temperature with sodium or potassium hydroxide). This chemistry has been known for decades and has been optimized significantly.

At present, there is no large-scale commercial source of bio-based 1,12-dodecanedioic acid, although potential routes have been reported. Polyamides produced from this monomer rely on 1,12-dodecanedioic acid prepared from petroleum-derived butadiene, so such polymers are only partially bio-sourced, assuming that the diamine component is derived from renewable sources.

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Solvay’s Bio-Based Amorphous PPA for Smart Mobile Devices

Solvay Specialty Polymers,France has recently announced a major extension of its Kalix® high-performance polyamide (HPPA) product line, launching a new portfolio of bio-based high-performance polyamides offered for use in smart mobile devices such as smart phones, tablets, laptops, and other smart mobile electronics.

The introduction includes the Kalix® HPPA 3000 series, the first bio-based amorphous polyphthalamides (PPAs), and the Kalix® 2000 series, a family of bio-sourced semi-crystalline polyamide grades that provide outstanding impact performance. Solvay unveiled the new materials at the 19th International Trade Fair for Plastics and Rubber Worldwide, which was held on Oct. 16-23, in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Both the 2000 and 3000 series contain monomers that come from the sebacic acid chain which is derived from non-food competing and GMO-free castor oil.

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