New company aims at producing bioplastic from carbon dioxide

LUX-ON, the new company founded by Bio-on aims to revolutionize the production of PHAs biopolymers using CO2 captured from the atmosphere.


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Bio-on (Bologna, Italy), a leader in the high quality bioplastic sector, in collaboration with Gruppo Hera (Bologna, Italy), one of Italy's largest multi-utility providers, has founded Lux-on, a new company aiming to revolutionize the production of PHAs biopolymers using CO2 captured from the atmosphere and producing energy without using fossil fuels.

The new technology developed by Bio-on envisages using carbon dioxide as a zero cost “raw material,” in addition to those already used to produce Bio-on bioplastic: sugar beet and sugar cane molasses, fruit and potato waste, carbohydrates, glycerol and waste frying oil. Using CO2 will reportedly also help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The laboratories and first plant of the new Lux-on project will be built by the end of 2019 close to the Bio-on Plants industrial facility at Castel San Pietro Terme (Bologna). It will be designed entirely by Bio-on technicians in collaboration with Hera, with carbon capture plants and a production facility using renewable solar energy. The plant will occupy an area of 1,500 m2, and will have a flexible production capacity that is rapidly expandable.

The electric energy used in Lux-on's innovative production process will be produced by photovoltaic systems which, aside from directly powering production, will also provide storable energy for nocturnal power (24/7 production). For energy storage, partnerships will be entered into with international experts in hydrogen (H) technology. Hydrogen, a non-polluting gas, will be produced from solar energy, stored and then converted to electric energy to power the plant when the solar panels are not running, i.e. at night or when light levels are poor.

The agreement also envisages a second development line aimed at identifying sustainable by-products for biopolymer production. Renamed PHA-CEL by Hera, this consists in transforming cutting and pruning cellulose into simple sugars that can then be used in fermentation following an enzymatic treatment. This process is made possible by the treatment technology, developed by Gruppo Hera, which is also assessing how to apply it to biogas and biomethane production from cuttings and prunings.

All the PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) developed by Bio-on are reportedly made from renewable plant sources with no competition with food supply chains, and from CO2 in the coming years. The PHAs are said to be able to replace a number of conventional polymers currently made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons and guarantee the same thermo-mechanical properties as conventional plastics with the advantage of being completely eco-sustainable and 100% naturally biodegradable.