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DuPont Biomaterials leader discusses new materials’ development

Michael Saltzberg, PhD, Global Business Director of DuPont Biomaterials, participated in The Future of Materials Summit this week.

15th November 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Wilmington, DE

Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Michael Saltzberg, PhD, Global Business Director of DuPont Biomaterials, participated in The Future of Materials Summit, which took place in Luxembourg this week. Dr Saltzberg joined other materials business leaders for a discussion on Best Practices for New Materials' Development, led by Geoffrey Carr, science editor at The Economist and chair of the Summit.

As the leader of DuPont’s global biomaterials programmes and business development, Saltzberg spearheads the development and commercialisation of renewably sourced biochemicals and biomaterials based on plants rather than petroleum.

“Materials suppliers play a critical role in increasing the sustainability of supply chains across the industries that we serve, and we believe making high-performance and cost-efficient materials from plant-based feedstocks is part of the solution,” said Dr Saltzberg. “I am looking forward to sharing the latest in DuPont’s biomaterials innovations with the group that The Economist has brought together for this Summit.”

Bio-PDO propanediol

One of DuPont’s core innovations in this space is Bio-PDO propanediol – a bio-based ingredient used in a variety of materials across a number of industries. DuPont Sorona is one of those materials – a patented polymer that offers customers a more sustainable solution for fibres and other applications with better performance in key parameters than competing petroleum-based materials.

Sorona is used in the textile, carpeting, and automotive markets – bringing softness, crush resistance and stretch to a growing list of products, not to mention its superior life cycle compared to the petroleum-based products it often replaces.

Novel polyester

In early 2016, DuPont partnered with Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) to launch a new process to produce a bio-based monomer – furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) – from a renewable feedstock. One of the first polymers under development is polytrimethylene furandicarboxylate (PTF), a novel polyester made by combining FDME and Bio-PDO.

PTF is a 100% renewable that – when used to make bottles and other beverage packages – is said to substantially improve gas-barrier properties compared to other polyesters. “This kind of innovation is central to DuPont’s approach,” the company explains. “By developing this renewably sourced monomer, the beverage industry will be able to create effective packages using less polymer than is required for current designs, resulting in significant benefits for customers and the environment.”

Making polymers from sugar

At the Summit, Dr Saltzberg also addressed DuPont’s research into the commercialisation of a new way to make high-performance polymers directly from sugar. This novel process uses an enzymatic process that closely mimics the way nature builds polymers like cellulose. He also spoke to materials manufacturers’ responsibility to enable environmentally friendly end-of-life solutions, acknowledging that diverse applications and markets are best served by different technical solutions.

According to Dr Saltzberg, DuPont’s biomaterials team is working hard to help ensure that end-use markets are developed for recycled materials. The company recently announced a collaboration with Unifi to create high-performance, renewably sourced garment insulation made in part with recycled material and Sorona polymer, offering leading apparel brands a new sustainable choice for cold-weather products.

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