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Sustainable PEF could replace PET

Polyester made of renewable raw materials – the starting material for PEF is undergoing intensive research. Also on board are the Ruhr University Bochum and the international consortium PEFerence.

09 Aug. 2018
Dulce Morales, Steffen Cychy, Stefan Barwe, Dennis Hiltrop, Martin Muhler und Wolfgang Schuhmann (from the left) © RUB, Marquard

Chemists from the Ruhr University Bochum (RUB) have developed a new, cost-effective nickel boride catalyst that converts the bio-refinery product 5-HMF into FDCA (2,5-furandicarboxylic acid). At the same time, the potential energy carrier hydrogen can be generated in the reaction. "FDCA interests industry because it can be made into polyesters," explains Dr. Stefan Barwe from the Bochum Center for Electrochemistry. "This allows the production of PEF, an alternative to PET – and the whole process is based on renewable raw materials, namely plants."

PEF (polyethylene dicarboxyfuranoate) is lighter and more heat-resistant than PET and 100% recyclable. It offers significant advantages as an alternative to PET. That is why it is also the focus of an international consortium that has joined forces under the name of PEFerence . The eleven members from eight countries plan to build a plant with an annual capacity of 50,000 tons of pure FDCA, with the aim of becoming global leaders in the production and marketing of FDCA and PEF. The consortium includes the following companies: Synvina , BASF , Avantium and Tereos .